House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez led the legislative chamber Wednesday in expressing its deep appreciation and gratitude to the United States government, United States Agency for International Development and the American people for the 75 years of “excellent diplomatic and bilateral relations.”
Speaking during the hybrid meeting for the launching of the US-Philippines Congressional Friendship Caucus at the US Embassy in Manila, Romualdez, representative of Leyte’s first district, welcomed the continued US support, partnership, kindness, huge business investments, friendship, and assistance, including millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses donated to the Philippines. Romualdez explained that the US-Philippine relations might be characterized by strong historical and cultural linkages and a shared commitment to democracy and human rights which have expanded and deepened through bilateral cooperation in many areas, most notably defense and security, trade and commerce, and culture and education. “In behalf of the House of Representatives under Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the United States for all its support for the Philippines,” Romualdez said in his opening remarks during the event. He cited the House’s adoption of House Resolution 65 expressing its sincerest appreciation and profound gratitude to the US as well as the USAID for its continued assistance to the Philippines. “It gives me great pleasure to join you this morning (Wednesday), knowing fully well the contributions that the United States has provided in strengthening the partnership with the Philippine government. Truly, I am delighted to see all of you, still hale and hearty, despite the public health crisis gripping the globe today,” Romualdez said. Heather Variava, Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim, at the US Embassy Manila, handed over to Romualdez a plaque of appreciation for the House of Representatives in honor of the establishment of the US-Philippines Congressional Friendship Caucus. Romualdez also recognized the huge contribution of multinational companies from the US, especially in the government’s continuing efforts to reboot and rebound the Philippine economy from almost two years of devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. “May the United States continue to be with us every step of the way as a partner in our recovery efforts. With you as our partner in nation-building, I know we will not fail,” Romualdez said. He added his fellow legislators have exerted all efforts to ease doing business in the Philippines and make a more conducive business environment that would foster economic growth. The US has facilitated the donation of more than 26.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to the Philippines through America’s partnership with COVAX. The U.S. partnership with COVAX will provide enough vaccines to fully vaccinate 22 million Filipinos, which is 20 percent of the population. In addition to vaccine donations, the US has provided more than $39 million in COVID-19 assistance to the Philippine people. This assistance includes donations of new ventilators, ICU beds, isolation tents, and Personal Protective Equipment. More than four million Filipino-Americans live in the US and more than 350,000 US citizens live in the Philippines. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately 650,000 American citizens visited the Philippines each year. At least 350 Filipinos and Americans participate in US-sponsored exchange programs each year. The US and the Philippines have conducted exchange programs for 70 years, and there are more than 8,000 Filipino alumni of U.S. exchange programs. Fulbright Philippines is the oldest continuously running Fulbright program worldwide and there are approximately 3,300 Filipinos currently studying at U.S. universities. The US is one of the Philippines’ top three trading partners and the largest single private employer in the country is an American company, Security Alliance. In 2020, there was $161.6 million in new foreign direct investment from the US to the Philippines.
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