SPEAKER Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Wednesday said Philippine-United States relation is reaching new heights and levels of understanding under the administrations of Presidents Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Joe Biden.
This was the takeaway of Romualdez and the rest of the Philippine House of Representatives delegation after their meeting early Wednesday morning (Philippine time) with US House Majority Leader Steve Scalise at the Office of the Majority Leader in the US Capitol, Washington DC.
Scalise represents Louisiana’s 1st congressional district.
“We, from the House of Representatives in Manila thank Majority Leader Scalise for his warm welcome, his kind words, and most importantly his commitment to further strengthening Philippine and US ties in various aspects. It was a fruitful and engaging meeting, to say the very least, and I feel that we are reaching new heights and levels of understanding,” said Romualdez.
“This solidifies the good working relationship between President Marcos and President Biden. Rest assured that legislators from both sides of the fence will follow through with the necessary work so that the benefits of this dynamic relationship would become more tangible tenfold,” said the Speaker, who represents Leyte’s 1st District.
Scalise’s Philippine counterpart, House Majority Leader and Zamboanga City 2nd District Rep. Manuel Jose “Mannix” M. Dalipe, shared the same appreciation of the meeting as Romualdez, saying, “It was an emboldening experience as a Filipino official to be on the same page with a high-ranking official in the US Capitol.”
Joining Romualdez in the meeting aside from Dalipe were House Deputy Speaker and Pampanga Rep. Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales Jr. of Pampanga’s 3rd District, Navotas City Rep. Tobias “Toby” Tiangco, Agusan del Norte 1st District Rep. Jose “Joboy” S. Aquino II, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel “Babe” del Gallego Romualdez, House Secretary General Reginald “Reggie” Velasco, and House Sergeant-at-Arms PMGEN. Napoleon Taas.
The Philippine delegation also held separate meetings with US Reps. Darrell Issa, Ami Bera, Mike Rogers (chairman of House Armed Services Committee), Christian Stewart; and Utah Atty. Gen. Sean David Reyes, a Filipino-American.
During the meetings, they discussed strategies to strengthen economic cooperation, defense and security engagements, as well as bilateral strategic dialogue between the two long-time allied nations.
“The majority leader [was] delighted to see the delegation. The Philippine government under President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. has reintegrated relations [with the] US to provide stability, peace, and prosperity, especially in enhancing our capability for defense and stronger economic security,” Romualdez said.
“Let’s make the two countries closer. We are here to gather support from US Congress to strengthen and improve our capabilities from external threats and national disasters,” he added.
As a treaty ally, the Philippines has been receiving substantial defense assistance from the US in terms of training and defense items and equipment.
From 2002 to 2021, the Philippines received defense and security assistance at roughly US$1.8 billion for defense modernization, maritime security, counter-terrorism, anti-narcotics, anti-human trafficking, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear preparedness.
On the economic front, Washington remains an important and strategic trading and investment partner of Manila. This economic partnership remained strong despite challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With our strong economy, we invited the US to increase and expand its investments. Just recently I was with the economic team of President Marcos to help generate more investments during the 2023 World Bank Group-International Monetary Fund (WBG-IMF) Spring Meetings,” the Speaker said.
“Now the congressional delegation of the House leadership is engaging their counterparts in the US Congress. We are working all out with our strong message to come to the Philippines and invest there,” he stressed.
In 2021, the US was the Philippines’ 3rd largest trading partner, top export market, and 5th major import source, whereas the Philippines ranked 30th among the US’ top trade partners. The US was also the Philippines’ 5th largest source of foreign investments in 2021, notably in the IT-BPM, electronics, real estate, construction, and transportation and storage sectors.