US-PH ties remain very strong, says US embassy exec
PALO, Leyte – The relationship between the United States and the Philippines remains to be “very strong.”
This was the statement of John Law, deputy chief of mission of the US embassy, as Filipinos on Sunday commemorated the Leyte Gulf Landing which led to the liberation of the Philippines from the Japanese invaders.
Law said the alliance between the US and the Philippines 75 years ago was “tested in war, forged in fire, and tempered with blood.”
“(And) that alliance endures and thrives today,” he said in his speech.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, reading a speech of President Rodrigo Duterte, said what happened 75 years ago in Leyte was not just a “military victory but a victory that solidify the bond between the Philippines and the United States, an iron-clad friendship that endures up to this very day.”
He then paid tribute to the gallantry of the veterans who sacrificed their lives during that war.
“May their sacrifices inspire us to be more decisive in confronting the modern challenges that we now face as a nation.”
These challenges, the President said, includes poverty, environmental degradation, criminality, corruption, illegal drugs, and terrorism.
For the first time, a Russian official was around to attend the historic occasion spearheaded by the US.
Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev expressed his “sincerest gratitude” for having been invited to the event held at the national park named after American general Douglas MacArthur in Barangay Candahug, Palo town.
Under the administration of President Duterte, the Philippines has pursued independent foreign relations with other countries like Russia, considered US’ rival along with China.
Mr. Duterte has made two visits to Russia and met with its president, Vladimir Putin, whom he openly admires. He has yet to visit the United States since he assumed the presidency in 2016.
Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla said it was the National Historical Commission of the Philippines that extended invitation to members of the diplomatic corps.
Petilla also said the Chinese embassy was also invited to the occasion but no one came to represent their country to the event.
Khovaev said Russia, then known as the Soviet Union, was not part in the liberation campaign of the Philippines but they still fought with the Japanese soldiers during the World War II in Asia, particularly in Korea and Manchuria, China.
“I think this is a great event. That is why, it’s a great honor and great pleasure to attend this remarkable and memorable celebration,” he said in an interview.
Asked if his presence is an indication of the improved relationship between his country and the Philippines, the Russian ambassador said that he could have attended the event “under any condition.”
“To be frank, I would attend this ceremony under any condition. There is no connection with the development of the bilateral relation between our two countries,” he said.
“The Russians and the Filipinos deserve to the reliable partners and close friends. The Russian Embassy will do our best to achieve this aim,” he added.
For war veteran Xerxes Abadiano, 99, one of the living veterans from Eastern Visayas, the sparse crowd during the event could be an indication that the young generation seemed to have forgotten them.
“I feel sad because it seems that they have forgotten our sacrifices,” he said.
Also present during the occasion were Senator Francis Tolentino, Australian Ambassador Steven James Robinsons and Yasushi Yamamoto, Japanese deputy chief of mission who once again, who expressed his condolences to the families whose loved ones perished during the war. /je
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