Senator Christopher “Bong” Go expressed optimism over the outcome of the recently-concluded meeting between President Rodrigo Duterte and United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III, saying the President was able to openly express his sentiments during the event.
“They had a good discussion,” Go said. “It could only bode a stronger relations between the two countries.”
President Duterte instructed the recall of the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement following the courtesy call in Malacañang.
The Philippines was the final country to be visited by the US Defense Secretary in a series of visits to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations member-states. He paid a courtesy call to the President Thursday night.
“Whatever ill feelings he had, President Duterte was able to express to Austin during the meeting,” the senator said.
Go emphasized that the positive developments from the meeting would hopefully result to even stronger relations between the two countries. He added that at this time of global crisis, it is crucial to uphold the core strategic interests of the Philippines and to uphold its independent foreign policy of being “a friend to all and enemy to none.”
Go further added that the clarifications of Secretary Austin on the equal sovereign partnership between the Philippines and US, as well as the latter’s commitment to the Mutual Defense Treaty were able to address key concerns of the President.
The former presidential aide emphasized further that as a treaty ally, the US has a special role to play. According to him, it was made clear by Secretary Austin how the US values the Philippines and intends to follow through with its commitment to make the alliance stronger.
Go mentioned that doses of Moderna vaccines are likely to arrive next Tuesday, 3 August as a donation of the US through the COVAX facility.
Meanwhile, Go said President Duterte values all countries that have assisted the Philippines during these challenging times due to the pandemic.
He clarified that as part of the Philippines’ independent foreign policy, engagements with other countries will continue so long as it is beneficial to the country’s core interests and provides partnerships that work.
Go shared that President Duterte expressed his gratitude during the meeting for the USA’s support to the Philippines’ Covid-19 response, especially the 3.2 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines it has earlier donated through the COVAX Facility.