US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Manila last Tuesday afternoon (November 15, 2011) for a one- day working visit to the Philippines. Clinton flew in from the APEC Summit in Hawaii to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the US-PH Mutual Defense Treaty and the 50th anniversary of USAID.
It was on the USS Fitzergerald, docked in Manila Bay where she signed a declaration marking the 60th MDT Anniversary, where she stated “we must ensure that this alliance remains strong, capable of delivering results for the people of the Philippines and the US and our neighbours throughout the Pacific.” The formal declaration looks to strengthen future relations between Manila and its former colonial power. Clinton also led the launch of the Partnership for Growth in the Philippines, an Obama administration initiative that aims to push for mutual economic growth.
With the growing concern of several Asian countries over China’s growing power, Clinton said that the United States was “updating” relationships with its five treaty-bound regional allies – Australia, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand.
“They leverage our regional presence and enhance our regional leadership at a time of evolving security challenges,” she said in a speech last week at the East-West Center in Honolulu.
In view of the Spratlys dispute, Clinton vowed to extend “greater support of the external defense of the Philippines.” According to Clinton, the dispute should be settled peacefully in accordance with the UN Conference of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and not through coercion or intimidation. “We will always stand and fight with you [Philippines] to achieve the future we seek,” Clinton stated.
Meanwhile, nearly 100 militants protested against Clinton’s visit to the Philippines. They demanded the Mutual Defense Treaty be scrapped, saying that it is used so that the US can meddle in Philippine affairs.
Clinton left the Philippines on Wednesday (Nov. 16) to join the ASEAN Summit in Bali, Indonesia.