I want to acknowledge Secretary Del Rosario, with whom I am working very closely, Secretary Gazmin as well, and all those who are representing the Government of the Philippines. But we also acknowledge General Oban, Vice Admiral Pama, Admiral (inaudible), and Brigadier Bautista, Lieutenant General Rabena, and Mayor Lim, the mayor of Manila.
On the United States side, we have a very distinguished delegation. I think it’s fair to say that this combination of representatives from the State Department and the Defense Department symbolizes the strength not only of the past but even more importantly our future together.
It is a special honor also for me to meet anywhere with U.S. servicemen and women, and I say thank you on behalf of all Americans. You protect us faithfully and courageously, often from faraway cities or remote corners of the ocean. And it’s been a great honor of my life to be able to work with you to ensure that you’re given the support and treatment you deserve from a grateful nation.
As each of us can attest, our mutual defense treaty has provided for our common defense and helped to create cooperation between our countries, not only military cooperation but also political and economic, and not only between governments but most importantly between our people.
That summer day in 1951 when this treaty was signed, our nations faced a very different world. Then we were united against the spread of communism. Filipino and American soldiers had fought side by side in World War II not long before, and this treaty was a testament that we stood united against the challenges of a dangerous world. Our hope was that we could pursue the peace together. And that common devotion to peace has sustained our alliance through the years.
Well, today we meet in a new era where we face new challenges but also where we confront new opportunities. So we must ensure that this alliance remains strong, capable of delivering results for the people of the Philippines, the United States, and our neighbors throughout the Asia Pacific. We are now updating our alliance and all of our alliances in the region with three guidelines in mind. First, we are working to ensure that the core objectives of our alliances have the political support of our people. Second, we want our alliances to be nimble, adaptive, flexible so they can continue to deliver results in this new world. And third, we are making sure that our collective defense capabilities and communications infrastructure are operationally and materially capable of deterring provocation from the full spectrum of state and non-state actors.
To that end, the United States is working with our Filipino allies to ensure that we can meet threats like proliferation and terrorism, and to support the Philippines particularly in the maritime domain as you move to improve your territorial defense and interdiction capabilities. In August, we transferred a Coast Guard cutter here, thanks to the escort that you provided, and we are together considering transferring a second one as well.
We are seeking to broaden and strengthen our partnership beyond defense. The Manila Declaration that we have just signed sets forth a shared vision for strategic, political, economic, and people-to-people cooperation. And later today, Secretary Del Rosario and I will sign a Statement of Principles for our Partnership for Growth to help the Philippines break into the ranks of the world’s high-performing economies. We are working together to increase trade and investment and to strengthen regional institutions like ASEAN, APEC, and the East Asia Summit. The United States-Philippines alliance has been a force for regional security for decades, and through our direct cooperation we are bringing that same spirit to regional forums as well.
As always, the foundation of what we do is really based on the ties connecting our peoples. The United States is home to more than four million Filipinos and Americans of Filipino descent, including several members of the crew of this ship. All told, Filipinos represent the second largest Asian American community in the United States, and we are proud and grateful for the invaluable contributions they make to our democracy, our economy, and our culture.
Looking back, there is much to celebrate, I agree, and we wish to make sure that both of our people understand the benefits that this relationship has brought, is bringing, and will provide for the future.
Now, consider this ship. The USS Fitzgerald has patrolled the entire Western Pacific region this year. It traveled to Australia, Russia, Guam, Saipan, the Marshall Islands, before docking here in Manila Bay. As part of Operation Tomodachi, the search, rescue, and recovery mission following the earthquake, the tsunami, and the nuclear reactor meltdown in Japan, the Fitzgerald operated closest to shore. And this summer, it transited the Gregorio del Pilar the flagship of the Filipino Navy on its maiden voyage across the Pacific. The ships cross-decked and held training sessions for 16 days on emergency response and onboard medical procedures. By the end of the exercise, the officers and crews onboard both vessels achieved new levels of proficiency and partnership.
That is just one example of the work we do every day together not only between our militaries and our governments, our diplomatic corps, but between our businesses, our universities, and our citizens. The vital ties between the Philippines and the United States are strong and growing stronger, and we must continue to invest in them to serve the interests and answer the concerns of the Filipino and American people, to maintain security and the conditions for progress, and to keep following the fruitful pursuits of peace. The United States remains committed to this goal, just as we are committed to our alliance. We are grateful for 60 years of partnership and the progress we have made together, and we look forward to many more years of working closely together on behalf of our two nations, our people, and the world. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)