Warmer Ties Between Philippines And US Supported By Caroline Kennedy’s Visit
The US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim accompanied Caroline Kennedy, former US President John F. Kennedy’s daughter, in a short trip to the Philippines last week. One of her main sentiments during the trip: a stronger US-PH bond.
Caroline Kennedy is the lone surviving member of the late US President John F. Kennedy (JFK). JFK has been one of the few US presidents the Philippines is quite warm to as he is the first Catholic president elected in the US and the president who signed the Philippines War Damage Bill in the US, which legitimized the claims of the Philippines for compensation for the property damages caused by the US during the World War II.
Caroline Kennedy with US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim
Last week, the former US Ambassador to Japan visited the Philippines for the first time, and she dropped by the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial to pay her respects. In a statement, Kennedy said, “This is my first trip to the Philippines and I very much wanted to visit this country which has played such an important role in American history and so many wonderful memories of all the Filipinos who served with my father in the White House and I know that there are some crew members memorialized here so I wanted to come and pay my respects.”
The American Battle Monument Cemetery is a great reminder for both Filipinos and Americans of our shared sacrifice and of the freedom we enjoy today. Glad I had the opportunity to visit with former Amb Caroline Kennedy. #FriendsPartnersAllies pic.twitter.com/vQNbrKJJBZ— Ambassador Sung Kim (@USAmbManila) February 6, 2018
Kennedy also went on a short stop to Corregidor Island, a former military outpost called Fort Mills used by the US in the 1900s to stave off the Spanish and Japanese forces. The historic Battle of Corregidor was fought at the very island, the battle that marked the start of Japan’s short-lived regime in the Philippines.
On February 7, Kennedy stopped by St. Scholastica’s College in Manila, where she held a poetry dialogue for Scholasticans and participants of the International Poetry Exchange Program (IPEP). The IPEP is a program organized by a US non-government organization, where students reach out to other students in different parts of the world via poetry.
Kennedy’s short visit to the Philippines was overall a very welcome affair, strengthening further what we can now see as a warming up between US and PH relations.
We can remember that during the time the Barrack Obama and Rodrigo Duterte administrations coincided, US and Philippine relations turned a little murky. The Philippines’ then new president Rodrigo Duterte became a little too hostile towards the Obama government, dropping foul language during his speeches and criticizing the US for not backing his war on drugs initiative. He even went as far as calling out US troops to vacate the Philippine soil and letting a year pass by without an official Philippine ambassador to the US.
But it looks like times are changing and the Philippine president is starting to warm up to the new US president—for better or for worse, that’s still a matter of debate. President Donald Trump’s tacit acceptance of Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs during his short visit to the country for the ASEAN 2017, as well as U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State James Walsh’s telephone news briefing last month that said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the anti-drugs initiative seem to be lightening the mood a bit.
Philippine National Police have killed nearly 50 people suspected of using or selling drugs in the past two months, just months after President Rodrigo Duterte’s promised a less deadly so-called war on drugs. Oh and Trump is a fan of this thug. https://t.co/L9OQGJ7P1d pic.twitter.com/gWbnCs7Rxi— Russell Drew (@RussOnPolitics) February 5, 2018
Gone are the days when Duterte is harshly scaring off US aid. This month, the US embassy even launched a P18.5-million #ForMindanao campaign that supports education and health programs for those still afflicted by the Marawi crisis.
Many are ready to see an end to the childish spat between the US and the Philippines, who are both very much participating in healthy trade and engaged in mutual defense treaties. And Kennedy shares this message, saying, “Our countries have been connected for centuries and… we hope that those bonds of friendship will grow stronger in the future.”