We really appreciate everybody being here this morning, and Mr. Ambassador Cuisia, thank you very much for being here with us. And I want to thank Phil for being – agreeing to be sworn in on such short notice. Everybody understands that we were able to move this up with the Senate. I’m appreciative to the Senate for moving on this because we want to have our ambassador on the ground in the Philippines to deal with the challenges of emergency assistance to the Philippines.
I have to say that I’ve had a long involvement with the Philippines, as the Ambassador knows, going back to literally the very first amendment I passed back in the 1980s in the United States Senate to change our policy with the Philippines and to help bring about the accountable election that resulted in Cory Aquino coming to power. And I spent many long hours and days in the Philippines – I was there – there for the elections, and I’ve always marveled that the extraordinary indomitable spirit of the people of the Philippines who are so committed to their democracy, standing for hours that day in the long – in the sun, waiting for the privilege of voting.
Now they are waiting for emergency assistance. Now they are once again displaying that incredible spirit, but literally to survive. One woman I know held up a sign saying “Help me, I’m hungry,” or “We are hungry.” Well, I’m proud that the United States of America is helping. We have heard these calls, we are responding to these calls. We’re cooperating with our friends in Japan and elsewhere, and we’re particularly grateful for the cooperative relationships. But we still need to do more.
I think we’ve delivered something like 1,780 tons of food. We have more than 13,000 United States service people who are deployed on air, sea, and land in order to help with the delivery of these goods. And we are going to continue to work to try to reach these devastated areas.
As we struggle to respond to this human disaster, we’re proud that we’re sending to the Philippines the right person for the job. Phil Goldberg is a consummate professional who has held an enormous array of positions in the Foreign Service – Executive Secretary to Strobe Talbott, worked with Dick Holbrooke in trying to help resolve – not at trying – in resolving the challenges of the Balkans, spent many long hours in smoke-filled rooms negotiating and working on that peace accord; has served as Deputy – as Chief of Mission in Kosovo, Ambassador in Bolivia; and through State Department in Washington positions; and abroad two Chief of Mission positions – this man is absolutely the right person for this job, most recently serving most capably as the Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Research.
So I am really pleased that we’re able to get him out there. He’s accelerated his departure. He’ll be departing, I think, on the 25th, and can’t get there soon enough in order to help make a difference. I want you to know that he has a special characteristic: He’s a Bostonian. (Laughter.) Went to Boston University, life-long fan of the Red Sox. Notwithstanding that, went in to the belly of the beast in New York for a period of time, and – against our old rival, the Yankees, although nowadays we’re not even sure they’re a real rival, but that’s all right. (Laughter.)
But Phil is without question the right person to take on this. I think somebody told me that Jackie Mason is one of those famous comics and Jackie Mason once said, “Predictions are preposterous.” But predicting what Phil is going to be able to do as Ambassador is not preposterous at all. It’s a sure bet. He is going to do a superb job, and it’s my honor to be able to swear him in this morning. So, Phil, if you will raise your right arm – and I forget that, unfortunately, because of the quick scheduling of this, there are family members of Phil’s from Boston, Nashville, and New York, who were not able to be here. And our apologies to them and to you, but thanks for being willing to go forward with this.
(Whereupon, Philip Goldberg was sworn in as Ambassador to Philippines.)
MODERATOR: Ambassador Goldberg will now sign his appointment papers.
SECRETARY KERRY: Outstanding. (Applause.)
AMBASSADOR GOLDBERG: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Thank you very much for this great honor of swearing me in. I have to say that I think this is the earliest – Pat Kennedy can attest to this – the earliest Treaty Room swearing-in in the history of the State Department. (Laughter.) Instead of “morning joe”, you got Morning Phil. (Laughter.) And I want to thank you and President Obama that you placed such confidence in me at such an important time in the Philippines. And I look forward to seeing you soon in Manila.
Ambassador Cuisia, DCM Austria, mabuhay, welcome to the State Department. Esteemed old colleagues from INR, new ones from the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, under the able leadership of Danny Russel, and those who work on the Philippines elsewhere, thanks for being here.
I think Pat Kennedy walked in, he was trying to figure out how we’d get paid next week, but he’s here, and so thanks very much. And Tom Shannon I saw somewhere as well, an old friend from South Africa and Latin America.
I head to Manila with mixed emotions. I’m excited and honored to be going to the Philippines, a country with which we share so much history. At the same time, it’s hard to think of the suffering of so many people in the Philippines in recent weeks and all they’ve endured without a touch of sadness and without being moved. If I’ve learned one thing from the Filipino friends I’ve made all around the world, and there are Filipinos all around the world, it’s that they’re warm, but they’re also tough and resilient. There should be no doubt that they will bounce back. I have no doubt. And I know that the President and the Secretary are committed to doing everything we can do to help the people of the Philippines make a full recovery and advance in the next stage of the country’s development.
One thing the relief effort has underlined is the importance of coordination between the U.S. and Philippine governments and military. This coordination has been outstanding and has saved lives. I look forward to helping our two countries do more in terms of humanitarian relief preparedness, and I’d like to thank those here in the State Department, USAID, the Defense Department, and especially the whole team at Embassy Manila for the smooth work they’ve carried out with your government, Ambassador. They’ve done a superb job, and I look forward to leading them.
As the Secretary said, our relationship with the Philippines is broad-based and deep. I know we’ll be able to do more in many other areas. In commercial ties between the U.S. and the Philippines, opportunities abound with the Philippine economy growing at over 7 percent year on year, during the first half of this year. And I look forward to working with the Aquino government so that further progress can be made in so many other areas.
This is a historic relationship and based on friendship, shared values, and family ties. Mr. Secretary, I’ll do everything I can to further this relationship.
Finally, I’d like to thank a few people who are here – the Academy Award portion of the event. (Laughter.) The great Jennifer Wicks and her team from Presidential Appointments – she’s extraordinary. Greg Wiegand and the guy we call David A from the desk. We cannot pronounce his last name. They’ve been my invaluable guides and endless source of knowledge on the Philippines. Our Post Management Officer, Matt Austin, who did all the paperwork to get me out on Sunday, and my INR OMS Deborah Howard, who put my schedule always together.
I’d like to thank all the people who’ve helped me in my career, except that it would take several days, Mr. Secretary, and you’ve asked me to get out there quickly. (Laughter.) But just a few – you mentioned Strobe Talbott and Richard Holbrooke, two giants of diplomacy, from whom I learned so much and thanks to whom I participated in some great events. John Bass was with me on some of them. Secretary Clinton, who asked me to head INR, and as some of my friends, advisors, and co-conspirators – Chris Hill, Kristie Kenney, and I have to say Bill Brownfield, but – (laughter) – Bill is now thrilled his name was mentioned. And to my entire family who were not be able to be here, we’ll get together soon and have a glass of champagne. Thank you all for being here so early, and see you in the Philippines. (Applause.)
SECRETARY KERRY: Everybody, have a chance – again, thank you for coming so early, and please everybody, have a chance to come by and give congratulations to Phil. Thank you all very much. Appreciate it.