Presentation of the Order of Lakandula, Signing of the Partnership for Growth and Joint Press Availability with Philippines Foreign Secretary Albert Del Rosario

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Manila, Philippines
November 16, 2011

MODERATOR: Please be seated. We will now proceed to the conferment of the award. Be it known to all men by these (inaudible) that I, Benigno S. Aquino III, president of the Republic of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by law, have caused to be inscribed in the roster of the Order of Lakandula the name of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State, United States of America, with the rank of Bayani, done in the City of Manila the 16th day of November in the year of our Lord 2011.

(The award was conferred.)


MODERATOR: We will now proceed to the signing of the Joint Statement of Intent on the Partnership for Growth between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the United States of America.

The Partnership for Growth aligns both governments’ strategic efforts towards inclusive Philippine economic growth. This partnership will enhance the Philippine Government’s capability to: first, foster a more competitive business environment; second, strengthen the rule of law and increase efficiency in courts; and lastly, support fiscal stability. This five-year program is a signature initiative of President Obama’s Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development. Fifteen U.S. agencies are actively engaged with the Philippine Government in this new joint effort. The Partnership for Growth anticipates producing a transformative impact on the Philippines and unleashing the country’s potential for broad-based and sustained economic growth. (Applause.)

(The joint statement was signed.)


MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes the signing ceremony. We will now proceed to the press opportunity. Secretary Clinton will now deliver her statement.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you very much, and let me begin by expressing what a personal pleasure it is for me to be back here in Manila. I want to thank President Aquino and Foreign Secretary Del Rosario for extending such a warm welcome and also extend my appreciation to all of the officials of the Government of the Philippines. And I am grateful to all of you and to the people of the Philippines for the Order of Lakandula. This is an honor that I will always treasure.

And on behalf of the American people and President Obama, I bring greetings and well wishes. For 60 years now, the alliance between the Philippines and the United States has helped keep our nations secure. And thanks to that security, both nations have made progress on many fronts. We have strengthened our democracies, developed our economies, and certainly built strong ties among our peoples. We have also helped provide stability and security throughout the Asia Pacific.

And so we do have a lot to be grateful for and proud of during this anniversary year. But it’s not about looking toward the past. This is about how we face the future together. And we know that we can count on the alliance to continue to keep us safe and growing stronger.

During the past year, our nations have embarked on a campaign of increasingly active diplomacy. In January, we inaugurated the first U.S.-Philippines Bilateral Strategic Dialogue here in Manila. In June, I had the pleasure of welcoming the foreign secretary to Washington. And Secretary Panetta and I are looking forward to welcoming Secretary Del Rosario and Defense Secretary Gazmin to Washington early next year for a joint meeting in the 2+2 format, making it the first time all four secretaries will sit down together to take a comprehensive look at our partnership. Our meeting in Washington in January will be quite a bit cooler weather-wise, but I hope just as warm personally as the one here in Manila.

My visit today is part of this reinvigorated diplomacy. Earlier on the deck of the USS Fitzgerald in Manila Bay, the foreign secretary and I signed the Manila Declaration. And just now, he and I officially launched the U.S.-Philippines Partnership for Growth, a rigorous, results-oriented collaboration to help the Philippines break into the ranks of the world’s high-performing emerging economies and achieve sustainable, broad-based growth that will benefit all of the people of this country. Leaders here have worked hard to lay the groundwork for this kind of economic leap by making reforms to improve transparency and tax collection and to create more inclusive prosperity.

The United States wants to support these pro-growth reforms and help unlock the Philippines vast economic potential to improve the lives of your own people, to drive regional prosperity, and to create more high-paying jobs so fewer Filipino citizens have to travel to distant countries to support their families.

Through the Partnership for Growth, a team from across the United States Government will work closely with partners in the Filipino Government to create a more transparent and predictable business environment, lower barriers to trade and strengthen the rule of law, as well as fighting corruption. Together we hope to deliver an array of benefits to the people, including more foreign investment to create new jobs, a more streamlined court system that can deliver justice and protect local businesses, better services, and more resources to fight poverty. Over time, these steps will better position the Philippines to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which we hope will dramatically increase trade and investment among the peoples of the Pacific.

In addition to our bilateral partnership, we are working in several regional forums. A few days ago we met in Hawaii for the APEC Leaders Meeting, and in a few days we will meet again in Bali for the East Asia Summit and the U.S.-ASEAN Leaders Meeting. Our goal is to show demonstrably what we mean by a pivot to Asia, to strengthen the architecture of cooperation among the nations of the Pacific to address regional challenges, advance broad-based security, prosperity, democratic progress, and peace.

The United States looks to the Philippines and sees a trusted ally, a nation that shares our democratic values, and ancestral home for millions of Filipino Americans, an important trade and development partner, and may I add, a country with one of the highest Facebook penetration rates in the world. The Filipino people, like the American people, are eager to connect, to seize new opportunities, to have a voice in their own country and in global debates. And so let us work together to shape that shared future.

And I’ll end today with just a personal comment, some praise for a native son of the Philippines who is making headlines across the world. We know that the Pacman had another great victory. As I said in the last time I was in Manila, I am a major Pacman fan, and in the spirit of his sport and his success, let me say the United States will always be in the corner of the Philippines. We will always stand and fight with you to achieve the future we seek. (Applause.) Thank you all.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Secretary Clinton. Secretary Del Rosario will now deliver his statement.

FOREIGN SECRETARY DEL ROSARIO: Ladies and gentlemen, the year 2011 is a banner year for Philippines-U.S. relations. This year we are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Philippines-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty as well as the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps and USAID in the Philippines. The event is marked no less than by the visit of Secretary Clinton, to be followed by the meeting between President Aquino and President Obama in Indonesia on the 18th of November.

These milestones and high-level meetings have tested the multifaceted engagement between the Philippines and the United States, making it one of the most durable and dynamic strategic partnerships in the whole world.

Secretary Clinton and I had very fruitful discussions on a broad range of bilateral, regional, and global issues this morning. We exchanged views on how to employ the interlocking tools of development, diplomacy, and defense to weld a formidable, more focused, and efficient alliance that is results-oriented and forward-looking.

This morning we signed the Manila Declaration. It affirms the vigor of our alliance, especially at a time when the Philippines is facing challenges to its territorial integrity in the West Philippine Sea. As I mentioned earlier in the signing, a stronger, reliable Philippine defense in the West Philippine Sea upholds our common and shared interests to freedom of navigation, unimpeded commerce, and respect for international law.

The president also met with Secretary Clinton today and discussed areas where their priorities converge and how the Philippines and the U.S. can work in these areas together. We are charting the course of our relations by seizing vast opportunities to grow our economies, open by the fastest-growing region in the world, the Asia Pacific.

The Philippines and the U.S. blazed a trail in development-oriented collaboration in Asia. We jointly embark on a mission to win a sustainable and broad-based economic growth in our country through the Partnership for Growth. A stronger economy for the Philippines is a stronger ally for the United States and the region. We are committing ourselves in implementing policies that will catalyze a kind of economic growth that would have a perceptible impact on the lives of average Filipinos across the nation. By unlocking the Philippines’ potential for economic growth, the Partner for Growth will boost the Aquino administration’s drive to unleash our country’s capacity to create equal opportunities for everyone.

There is much reservoir of goodwill across both sides of the Pacific. I am confident that our partnership will gather more steam as our engagement intensifies in every front. I thank you. (Applause.)

MODERATOR: Thank you, Secretary Del Rosario. Secretary Clinton and Secretary Del Rosario will now take two questions from members of the press. The first will be from Mr. Paul Eckert of Reuters.

QUESTION: Thank you. Good afternoon. Paul Eckert of Reuters News Agency. For both officials, the development yesterday down in Bali where the ASEAN nations were unable to agree on a united stand on the South China Sea, for Secretary Clinton, how does that complicate your work going forward on this issue going into Bali and beyond? And more broadly, all countries sort of wrestle with the economic appeal of China and how to tap that, along with coping with some of the policies that may be less palatable or even threatening, depending on where you sit. So I’d welcome a broader philosophical comment from either official on the second part of that question. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Paul, let me start. First of all, we believe that the United States participation for the first time in the East Asia Summit as well as our third U.S.-ASEAN Leaders Meeting sends a very strong message of what our level of commitment is to this region and to the many issues that we confront. And we will certainly expect and participate in a very open, frank discussion of maritime security challenges in the region and how to address them cooperatively. President Obama will reaffirm our national interest in the maintenance of peace and security in the region and internationally, and that includes freedom of navigation, overflight, respect for international law, the rule of law, unimpeded lawful commerce across the region’s maritime domain. And we further seek to see the Law of the Sea used as the overriding framework for handling territorial disputes.

So we expect that there will be such a frank discussion. We have been heartened by the strong response by a number of the countries that are part of ASEAN and part of the broader East Asia Summit. And we think this probably will require leader-level discussions, and we look forward to those occurring in Bali.

FOREIGN SECRETARY DEL ROSARIO: On the discussions of – about the South China Sea, as far as we know it in the Philippines the West Philippine Sea, we obviously have three concerns regarding that issue. The first concern is we are – like many other nations, we share the importance of freedom of navigation and unimpeded commerce. That’s one. Secondly, we are in a territorial dispute issue. That’s the second. And third is we have a particular interest in the West Philippine Sea and the commerce there because of the number of seafarers that we have in the Philippines. As you know, 25 percent of the seafarers of the entire universe are Filipinos.

We do have – if you – we do have a territorial dispute and we are – like other nations who are of interest in the issue, we do have an interest in providing a solution in accordance with the rule of law. Essentially, we’re talking about – or specifically UNCLOS. We are looking for a peaceful resolution to the issue. We are looking for a multilateral approach considering that there are many claimants involved. And we also are looking for an observance of the Declaration of Conduct that’s in place.

We are – that’s – we’re commonly embracing those facets of interest and behavior, but we think that we – the Philippines has contributed significantly to the issue by its introduction of an actionable framework. It’s known as ZoPFFC. It stands for Zone of Peace, Freedom, and Cooperation. It is a actionable framework that we have contrived that will address the segregation of disputed versus the undisputed areas so that the disputed areas can be used for joint development purposes.

As you may know, we had pushed this and we were actually requested by ASEAN to get together and to assemble a maritime legal forum (inaudible) the Philippines. And unfortunately, from the very beginning, we did not have a consensus because only eight of the ten countries came to the table to assist us in vetting this initiative.

But nevertheless, we completed the results of that forum, of that vetting. And as you probably have heard, we were successful in terms of being able to establish a consistency between the actionable framework that we were introducing to that of the DOC and we also have established a relevance of the framework as well to UNCLOS. This, of course, was brought up to the foreign ministers meeting in Bali that’s being held at this time. And I understand that it was referred for further study. We are – we considered that we have not been defeated, that we did do our part in terms of being proactive, in terms of introducing what we felt would be a way to be able to conclude an application of the rule of law to the issue.

But the Philippines itself is – if I may go further with your permission, Madam Secretary, we’re interested in being able to validate our claim. And by this, we hope to be able to go to a dispute settlement forum which is provided by UNCLOS. And there we have five choices. One is ITLOS. The other is ICJ. And then there’s a third and a fourth, which are forms of arbitration. And there’s a fifth, which is a compulsory conciliation. The first and the second require that we approach the forum with the other party, which in this case would be China, but I think China hesitates to do this with us. So we will, in all likelihood, proceed to the fifth mechanism and be able to secure a validation of our claim from that particular mechanism.

MODERATOR: And the last question for today will come from Mr. Willard Cheng of ABS-CBN.

QUESTION: Good afternoon. Pardon my very long question, Madam Secretary. The United States is known for its strong advocacy for human rights, transparency, and accountability. I wonder what are your thoughts about the refusal of the Aquino administration to allow former President Arroyo to seek medical treatment abroad. And having personally known her, are you concerned about the state of health of the former president?

And secondly, Madam Secretary, the United States in recent days has made known its plans to expand and diversify its maritime presence in Asia and the Pacific. What will be the role of the Philippines in these plans? And to what extent will the United States be involved in the disputed Spratlys? And can you elaborate more in your statement that the United States will remain in the corner of the Philippines, and will you support the quest of the Philippines to validate its territorial claims in international arbitration bodies? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as to the first question, this is obviously a matter for the authorities of the Philippine Government and all of its branches, and it would not be appropriate for me as a Secretary of State to comment any further.

We are strongly of the opinion that the disputes that the foreign secretary referred to that exist primarily in the West Philippine Sea between the Philippines and China should be resolved peacefully. The United States does not take a position on any territorial claim, because any nation with a claim has a right to assert it, but they do not have a right to pursue it through intimidation or coercion. They should be following international law, the rule of law, the UN Convention on Law of the Seas, UNCLOS that the foreign secretary has referred to. There are mechanisms within it, as he has just enumerated, for the resolution of disputes. And we stand for the rule of law and we stand for international norms and standards, which is why we support the peaceful resolution.

At the same time, we recognize that our long mutual defense treaty and alliance relationship with the Philippines has to be updated and brought into the 21st century, and that will require working with the Philippines to provide greater support for external defense, particularly maritime domain awareness, defense of one’s maritime boundaries. And we’ve begun some intensive consultations between our two governments to determine exactly what the specifics of such an approach would be, which is why we will be continuing those consultations.

Then in January, the defense secretaries and foreign secretaries will meet in the first-ever 2+2 context. We do this with Japan; we do it with Korea; we do it with Australia. We’re doing it now with the Philippines in Washington. We also are looking forward to President Obama welcoming President Aquino to the White House, to the Oval Office, sometime early in the next year, because we have a lot of work to do. And we want to be very sensitive to the requests and needs of the Government of the Philippines, and we want to make it clear that our military relationship, like every other aspect of our relationship, is one based on mutual respect and mutual interest. And we think that the time has come for us to look at how we can update our military relationship moving into the future, knowing that there are new challenges and new opportunities for us to be working together.

QUESTION: Thank you.


MODERATOR: Thank you, Secretary Clinton. Thank you, Secretary Del Rosario. That concludes our press opportunity for today. (Applause.)

PRN: 2011/T55-09