Philippine Army Gym, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City
29 April 2014
United States President Barack Obama reaffirmed the enduring alliance being shared by the Philippines and the U.S. when he spoke before Filipino and American troops in Fort Bonifacio.
Addressing for the first time the military servicemen, he cited the 70th anniversary of the battle of Leyte during World War II and the beginning of the liberation of the Philippines as one of the defining moments in the shared history of U.S. and the Philippines. Both countries have also been bound by a Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) for more than 60 years.
“Deepening our alliance is part of our broader vision for the Asia Pacific. We believe that nations and peoples have the right to live in security and peace, and to have their sovereignty and territorial integrity respected. We believe that international law must be upheld, that freedom of navigation must be preserved and commerce must not be impeded. We believe that disputes must be resolved peacefully and not by intimidation or force. That’s what our nations stand for. That’s the future we’re working for. And that’s why your service is so important,” said Obama.
He acknowledged and honored in his speech World War II Filipino war veterans that were denied the compensation that his country had promised. He said that his administration and Congress have worked to right this wrong and now these veterans and their families have finally received what they had earned.
He also lauded the first responders to victims of super typhoon Yolanda when it hit Tacloban in November last year. They are Philippine Navy SEAL Captain Roy Trinidad, United States Marines Colonel Mike Wylie, U.S. Air Force Major George Apalisok and Army Major Leo Liebreich.
In closing, President Obama said, “There’s a connection between our proud veterans from World War II and our men and women serving today — bound across the generations by the spirit of our alliance, Filipinos and Americans standing together, shoulder-to-shoulder, balikatan. On behalf of the American people, thank you all for your service. Thank you for making us so proud. To the Americans here, I am never prouder than being able to stand before you as your Commander-in-Chief. To our Filipino armed forces — thank you for being such an outstanding ally. Together, you are helping to secure the prosperity and peace of both our nations.”