PRESIDENT MARCOS JR: Good morning, Mr. Secretary, and all of your party. We are all very happy that – we’ve seen your schedule, and we are very happy that you were able to find time to pass by the Philippines so that we have the continuing contact that the Philippines and the United States have had over – for over a hundred years. It is particularly timely, your arrival here. As we know, in this region there have been very many issues. The last few days have raised – have put to the fore some of them – the visit of your House Speaker Nancy Pelosi coming here – really just – I do not think, to be perfectly candid – I did not think it raised the intensity; it just demonstrated how the intensity of the conflict has been. It actually has been at that level for a good while now, but we sort of got used to the idea and then put it aside.
But nonetheless, this just demonstrates how volatile the international diplomatic scene is not only in the region – the obvious – obviously the events in the Ukraine have been of significant – of significant importance to, surprisingly, even countries like the Philippines, which we would imagine was very far away.
So again, this just points to the fact of the importance of the relationship between the United States and the Republic of the Philippines. I hope that we will continue to evolve that relationship in the face of all the changes that we have been seeing and the changes that are between in our bilateral relationship with the United States. The Mutual Defense Treaty is in constant evolution, as I – I’d like to think of it.
And as we – the other, with the United States – as I spoke – as we spoke with your ambassador at some length when she came to present her credentials, is that the – we cannot – we can no longer isolate one part of our relations from the other. We are too closely tied because of the special relationship within the United States and the Philippines and the history that we have shared, and of course all the assistance and help and support that we have received from the United States over the years. And they can no longer be categorized as one thing or another because they cover such a large – a large scope.
So I am glad that you are able to come and visit the Philippines once more. Unfortunately, with your crushing schedule, I don’t know if you will be able to do any actual visiting, but perhaps you can do some good work while you are here.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Mr. President, thank you so much. It’s a great pleasure for me to be back in the Philippines, and it’s an honor for me to have this opportunity to meet you and to speak with you. Thank you so much for receiving us – so talking about busy schedules, especially with your recent election, I know that you take office, the inbox is very high. The outbox, not quite as high – so I very much appreciate it.
And I think it really is evidence of exactly what you’re saying, Mr. President. The – our relationship is quite extraordinary because it is really founded in friendship, it’s forged as well in partnership, and it’s strengthened by the fact that it’s an alliance as well. To your point, the people-to-people ties between us are almost unique, and it’s something that we tremendously value in the United States, just as I know you do here. But we’re also working together as partners in so many different areas, particularly economically, and of course, the alliance is strong and, I believe, can grow even stronger.
We’re committed to the Mutual Defense Treaty. We’re committed to working with you on shared challenges. But I think what’s so striking to me, Mr. President, is that we are working together on bilateral issues between us, we’re working together in the region, and increasingly, we’re working globally because so many of the challenges we face are global in nature – whether it’s COVID-19, and we’ve been proud to be your partner in working on that and protecting all of our people; whether it’s climate and the need to deal with that existential challenge; or whether it’s the impact of all of these new technologies on the lives of our people.
In these and so many other areas, the work we’re doing together matters. It matters to people back home in the United States, and I hope and believe it matters to people here in the Philippines. So I’m grateful for this opportunity to deepen everything we’ve already been doing, and we’re grateful to be working with you and your administration.
PRESIDENT MARCOS JR: Thank you very much.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thanks.