Kamala Harris photo

ICYMI: Vice President Harris Bolsters Critical U.S. – Philippines Alliance

November 22, 2022

This week, Vice President Harris traveled to Manila and Palawan in the Philippines, where she met with leaders and activists and highlighted the longstanding strength of the U.S.-Philippines alliance. The visit focused on strengthening our bilateral relationship, in recognition of our long history as friends, allies, and partners. 

The Vice President participated in bilateral meetings with President Marcos and Vice President Duterte. The Vice President launched a series of new initiatives to strengthen our partnership across a range of issues, including: climate action, energy and food security, digital economy, health, and maritime cooperation. The Vice President re-affirmed the U.S. commitment to uphold the international rules and norms in the South China Sea and the broader Indo-Pacific. The Vice President also announced a strengthening of our security cooperation under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, initiated negotiations on a civil nuclear agreement, and launched an Energy Policy Dialogue and a Food Security Dialogue.

Throughout her visit, the Vice President discussed the importance of respect for human rights, highlighting that our nation's shared democratic values serve as the foundation of our strong alliance, and she met with Filipina human rights activists. In addition, she engaged in a conversation with young women, where she discussed empowering women and girls around the world.

Finally, the Vice President traveled to Palawan. She visited Tagburos, a fishing village, and met with residents and community leaders about the impact of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing on the local economy, coastal ecosystems, and lives and livelihoods.  She then visited Teresa Magbanua, a Philippine Coast Guard vessel, received a tour and briefing on the U.S.-Philippine partnership on maritime issues, and delivered remarks about international rules and norms in the South China Sea.

Read highlights of her visit to the Philippines below:

Associated Press: VP Harris urges defense of sovereignty in South China Sea
[Jim Gomez, November 22, 2022]

Vice President Kamala Harris urged countries on Tuesday to stand up for territorial integrity and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, which has been challenged by China, and said Washington would press an international campaign against "irresponsible behavior" in the disputed waters. […]

In her talks with Marcos Jr. on Monday, Harris reaffirmed Washington's commitment to defend the Philippines under a 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty which obligates the allies to help defend either side which comes under attack.

"An armed attack on the Philippines armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the South China Sea would invoke U.S. Mutual Defense commitments," Harris told Marcos Jr. "And that is an unwavering commitment that we have to the Philippines."

Marcos Jr. thanked Harris, saying that with the upheavals in the region and beyond, "this partnership becomes even more important."

In Palawan's main city of Puerto Princesa, Harris visited a small fishing community and spoke with impoverished villagers about the impact of illegal fishing on their livelihood. She was welcomed by dancing children and talked with women drying fish under the sun by the sea. […] New York Times: In Philippines, Harris Promises Support and Denounces China
[Jason Gutierrez, November 22, 2022]

Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday denounced China for what she called "intimidation and coercion" in the disputed waters of the South China Sea and promised that the United States would stand by the Philippines, at a time when the Biden administration is looking for ways to counter Beijing's influence in the region.

Ms. Harris made her remarks in a speech to members of the Philippine Coast Guard in Palawan, the province closest to the disputed Spratly Islands, where the Philippines has accused China for years of harassing its fishing vessels and naval ships. Earlier Tuesday, she visited a Palawan fishing village.

"Communities like this have seen the consequences when foreign vessels enter Philippine waters and illegally deplete the fishing stock, when they harass and intimidate local fishers, when they pollute the ocean and destroy the marine ecosystem," said Ms. Harris, who did not single out China by name. […]

Wall Street Journal: Kamala Harris Seeks to Strengthen Philippines Alliance Amid Fraught China Relations [Feliz Solomon, November 22, 2022]

[…] Speaking aboard a Philippine coast guard vessel docked at the island of Palawan, Ms. Harris warned against coercion and pledged $7.5 million in new funding to support the Philippines' maritime law-enforcement agencies. The U.S. has criticized China for building military facilities atop artificial islands in the South China Sea that have helped Beijing assert its expansive claims over the disputed area. […]

"As an ally, the United States stands with the Philippines in the face of intimidation and coercion in the South China Sea," Ms. Harris said. […]

During Ms. Harris's trip to Palawan, the highest-level visit to the island by a U.S. official, she went to a small village called Tagburos where she met with local fishermen and women whose livelihoods depend on the sea. […]

"This is how I see it: to protect the economic vitality of these communities, to protect the ecosystems they rely on, and to protect lives and livelihoods, we must uphold international rules and norms," Ms. Harris said, commending the Philippines's coast guard for its work on what she called the "front-lines of standing up for the international rules-based order." […]

Reuters: U.S. stands with Philippines against coercion in South China Sea – Harris
[Karen Lema, November 22, 2022]

[…] Aboard a Philippine coastguard vessel docked in the Puerto Princesa bay, Harris said the United States and the broader international community "have a profound stake in the future of this region". […]

"We must stand up for principles such as respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, unimpeded lawful commerce, the peaceful resolution of disputes, and the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, and throughout the Indo-Pacific," she said in a speech. […]

Before boarding the coastguard ship, Harris visited Tagburos, one of Palawan's many coastal communities where she spoke with local leaders and fishermen, whose livelihoods are threatened by illegal and unreported fishing and climate change.

"Communities like this have seen the consequences, and people here know the impact when foreign vessels enter Philippine waters and illegally deplete the fishing stock, and when they harass and intimidate local fishers," Harris said in an apparent swipe at China. […]

CNN: Kamala Harris' visit to the Philippines sends China a message of US intent
[Kathleen Magramo, November 21, 2022]

[…] Speaking to reporters Monday, Harris reaffirmed Washington's "unwavering" commitment to the pact. "We must reiterate always that we stand with you in defense of rules and norms, (in the South China Sea)," Harris said, adding that any attack on Philippine vessels in the South China Sea would invoke mutual US defense commitments.

Sitting beside Harris, Marcos Jr. told reporters: "I have said many times, I do not see a future for the Philippines that does not include the United States, and that has come from the very long relationship with the US." […]

CNN Philippines: Harris tells human rights advocates not to give up
[Gerg Cahiles, November 21, 2022]

US Vice President Kamala Harris urged human rights activists on Monday to stay the course as there is strength in numbers to advance the cause. […]

"There is so much about the fight for human rights that require us to remember that we are not alone. Because it requires movements, it requires working against systems that have been designed in many situations to neglect if not be more affirmative in overlooking or even attacking human rights," she said. […]

"It's an opportunity and an inspiration to have this talk with VP Kamala Harris. It's a way for us to sort of have this light for our future. And have this woman so powerful to have this torch before us and guide us to where we want to go and strive as a community of young girls and women today," said Isabel Abundancia from Bridge the Gap. […]

Additional Highlights: 

Kamala Harris, ICYMI: Vice President Harris Bolsters Critical U.S. – Philippines Alliance Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/358899

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