President Rodrigo Duterte and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry affirmed the long standing relations of the Philippines and the United States at Wednesday’s lunch meeting at the President’s Hall of Malacanang.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella in a pres briefing said that Duterte and Kerry took note of the special relationship, with around four million Filipinos in America and at least 500,000 Americans in the Philippines.
The Palace official disclosed that the U.S. has committed US $32 million in training and services to the Philippines, mainly for law enforcement.
Abella said, “First, it was a courtesy call. It was a very interesting lunch because they shared common interests. They talked about motorcycles and hunting.”
He added that “they also discussed common concerns on terrorism, crime, drugs, religious fanaticism, and maritime security. They also mentioned a menu of solutions.”
He said the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) was touched upon and “it was affirmed that whatever works for the Philippines will be what will work.”
According to Abella, climate change was also on the agenda, with Kerry being “helpful in defining certain issues about the Paris pact” and PRRD saying that “the Philippines will work out just as long as everything is fair.”
“There were no agreements regarding that except that the President did mention that whatever talks we will engage in will begin with the ruling, that will be the foundation, the ruling regarding the area,” Abella said when asked about the West Philippine Sea.
Abella said Kerry was listening very intently when the President mentioned about how the administration is handling the war against crime and especially the drug campaign.
Prior to his visit to Malacanan, Kerry also held a joint press conference with Secretary of Foreign Affairs Perfecto Yasay Jr. It was there he mentioned the renewed commitment of the US to work with the Philippines under the mutual defense treaty since his visit came a day after the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.
Kerry’s visit also came a week after a US congressional delegation paid a courtesy call on Duterte. He was so far the highest-ranking official to visit the country under the new administration. He led a delegation of U.S. State Department officials and a lone military officer, US Vice Admiral Frank Pandolfe, who serves as assistant chairman to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.