United States Ambassador to the Philippines Philip S. Goldberg visited De La Salle University on June 30, 2014 for a town hall-style form entitled ‘Defining 21st Century Philippine-United States Relations’ held at the Fifth-floor Multipurpose Hall, Henry Sy Sr. Hall.
The discussion focused on the relationship of the two countries and the multiple endeavors the governments are undertaking together. Goldberg cites the importance of maintaining and deepening ties, given that the Philippines is the United States’ oldest treaty ally, while the US is one of the Philippines’ largest trading partners.
The recently-signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) was also discussed by the ambassador, who reiterated that while security and military ties are not the only reason for maintaining US-Philippine relationships, they remain to be an important aspect of it.
“Security aspects of our relationship underpin our ability to advance economically, in the sense that the Philippines is very strategically located in this area of Asia… and the US as a pacific power is more interested that there be freedom of navigation of both in the seas and in the air,” says Goldberg, “We are interested in open, free, transparent trade throughout the region, and therefore security is a very important aspect.”
Goldberg reiterates that with regards to the various maritime disputes, the United States takes no sides but has taken a very strong position in that disputes such as the territorial disputes over islands in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) must be settled “legally, peacefully, and diplomatically… and this is the proper way to settle disputes in the 21st century”.
Apart from this, economic cooperations for capital development as well as educational opportunities were also briefly expounded by Goldberg. The ambassador tells that the US Embassy is open to assisting the University’s American Studies program in organizing exchange programs and other opportunities for learning and cultural dialogue between the two countries.
The purpose of the event, according to Al James Untalan, an assistant professor of the International Studies (IS) Department, is to improve bilateral ties. “This is a way of (the) American Embassy to improve its bilateral ties with the Philippines by getting in touch with universities. De La Salle University is, actually, one of the three universities that the (US Embassy) chose to get in touch with,” he explains.
Focusing on its effects on the American Studies program, Untalan tells, “We aim to strengthen the American Studies program offered by the International Studies Department, and I think the best way for us to do that is to invite the Ambassador here.” He added, “With regards to possible future visits of the Ambassador, please expect that.” He noted that the previous US Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr. visited the University thrice in the past year.
Goldberg, a native of Boston, Massachusetts and a graduate of Boston University, started his term of service in the Philippines last December 2013. Previously, he was Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Ambassador to Bolivia and Chief of Mission in Pristina, Kosovo. He has also served in Chile, Colombia and South Africa. Before joining the US Department of State, Goldberg was a liaison officer between the City of New York and the United Nations consular community.
The event was organized by the American Studies program of the IS Department, the American Corner Philippines, and AMSTUD, the student organization for American Studies majors.