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Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for President Corazon C. Aquino of the Philippines

November 09, 1989

President Bush. Ms. President, welcome back to the United States, and welcome back to the White House. You last visited our country just months after the "miracle of people power." The changes in your country since that time are truly exciting. Your leadership has made the Philippines a beacon of democracy worthy of imitation throughout the world. Your economy is growing towards full recovery. We salute you, and we salute the Philippine people for vision, perseverance, and the successes that you have achieved.

We're looking forward to this opportunity to get better acquainted, to consult closely on the broad range of issues and concerns that we share. And high among these concerns, I know, is the promotion of private investment and trade between our two countries -- the key to balanced, long-term growth.

Three years ago, when you rang the bell of freedom in Manila, America cheered and rose in awe. When your words rang from the rafters of our Congress, our leaders stood up and gave you the most thunderous reception given any foreign leader in more than a generation. And just yesterday, when you rang the bell on the New York Stock Exchange, the market climbed 26 points. [Laughter] So, the message is simple: From Main Street to Wall Street, America loves the Philippines, and America loves Cory Aquino.

You deserve our help, and you will get it. I pledge our continuing assistance to your government, and that means security assistance as well as aid to economic development. And it means cooperating in your important debt reduction program. Your priorities are our priorities: reform -- administrative and economic; recovery -- new investment, encouraged by sound infrastructure and sound policies; renewal -- help with alleviating poverty and preserving the environment; resistance -- to the murderous antidemocratic forces of the Communist insurgency.

Earlier this year, America's Independence Day marked the successful launch of the Multilateral Assistance Initiative. This unique program, developed with Japan and the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and other donors, bolsters your efforts to refuel and restructure the Philippine economy. Today Congress stands ready to provide support for the first year of America's contribution to this initiative. And my appointment of one of our most preeminent statesmen, Ambassador Elliot Richardson, as my personal representative for the initiative shows the priority we accord to its success. With your government's continued dedication to administrative reform, effective project implementation, economic restructuring, the promise of this initiative will be fulfilled.

It is fitting, President Aquino, that you should visit as we approach a Veterans Day weekend. In the darkest nights of this democracy, in the days immediately following Pearl Harbor, Americans and Filipinos fought and died together. Hallowed names like Bataan and Corregidor will always bind us together in pride as well as sorrow. It was because so many Philippine citizens sacrificed their lives that General MacArthur was able to wade ashore at Leyte Gulf with Philippine President Osmena. MacArthur had returned; and fighting side by side with your country, victory was achieved.

On a personal note, 45 years ago almost to this very day, I was a 20-year-old kid piloting a torpedo plane on a raid against enemy shipping in Manila Bay. The exact date, I think, was November 13th. And President Aquino has often spoken of her belief that God has a plan, and I don't doubt it. For looking back today, I realize that, as I safely flew back to that ship on that November day in 1944, somewhere far below was the town of San Mateo, where an 11-year-old girl, a convent student, waited with her family. She was a remarkable child, devoted to her studies and to her faith, fiercely proud of her family and her people. And today it is a privilege and an honor for me to welcome her to the White House, the elected leader of the Republic of the Philippines, President Corazon Aquino.

Ms. President, in 1986, as in World War II, your nation faced a moment of truth. And once again the people of the Philippines proved their courage to the world. Down through the decades, our two peoples have shared a strong commitment to freedom, democracy, peace, and stability for the Philippines, for America, and for the Pacific region. And you noted here 3 years ago that the recovery of democracy brought with it the ability to deal with your major ally on an equal footing, the only basis for a relationship between friends. And so, it is in that spirit that we look forward to the discussions that we've already agreed will begin in December, discussions which, we are confident, will mold a new and mutually beneficial long-term security partnership in the future.

Welcome back, Mrs. President. God bless you. And God bless the people of the Philippines. And God bless the friendship between our two great nations. Thank you very much.

President Aquino. Mr. President, 3 years ago I came to Washington as the head of a country still reeling from two decades of misrule. With its economy just beginning to stir back to life, I stood here, nonetheless, as the representative of the Filipino people with a great deal of pride. For the Philippines had recovered its freedom and had become again a member in good standing, along side the United States, in the club of democracies.

It is true that authoritarian governments can be proud -- and often are, excessively -- but not their countries. Only free nations can truly feel pride. Today I stand here with a great deal of hope -- hope for the full economic recovery of my country, a recovery that is well on its way to becoming sustainable economic growth with some help from our friends.

I have come to Washington at the kind invitation of President Bush. With him and with Vice President Dan Quayle, State Secretary James Baker, Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady, and other officials, I hope to discuss a wide variety of issues affecting Philippine-American relations in line with the United States long efforts to maintain stability, foster peace, encourage freedom, and uplift the living standards of peoples throughout the world.

We will raise, particularly, the means by which the Philippines and the United States can cooperate in more areas to our mutual economic benefit. We shall explore the means to increase trade between two countries with long historic ties and deep cultural affinities. We shall do these things so that, by the economic improvement of the one, these two oldest allies in Asia can be stronger together.

These issues will not be easily or quickly resolved. But it is good for the sake of a friendship that we want to deepen further to begin their discussion with face-to-face meetings, the establishment of personal rapport, and an affirmation of the values that we shall never compromise and ever uphold.

While in Washington, I also expect to renew my acquaintance with various Members of the Congress that received me so warmly on my first visit and to get down to serious discussions with the officials of the International Monetary Fund. And equally important, I shall be renewing contact with the Filipino communities in the cities I shall visit, for they represent in the most vivid way for Americans the other side of the longest standing alliance for peace in the Pacific.

I'm so happy to be back. Thank you very much.

Note: President Bush spoke at 10:10 a.m. at the South Portico of the White House, where President Aquino was accorded a formal welcome with full military honors. Following the ceremony, the two Presidents met in the Oval Office.

George Bush, Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for President Corazon C. Aquino of the Philippines Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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