MANILA (PNA) – The Philippines and the United States affirmed their long-standing relations at Wednesday’s lunch meeting between President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the President’s Hall of Malacanang.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, in a briefing, told the Malacanang Press Corps that PRRD and Kerry took note of the special relationship, with around four million Filipinos in America and at least 500,000 Americans in the Philippines.
Kerry is the highest Cabinet member of U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration to visit President Duterte so far. He led a delegation of U.S. State Department officials and a lone military officer, US Vice Admiral Frank Pandolfe, who serves as assistant chairman to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Abella said, “First, it was a courtesy call. It was a very interesting lunch because they shared common interests. They talked about motorcycles and hunting.”
He added that “they also discussed common concerns: terrorism, crime, drugs, religious fanaticism, and maritime security. They also mentioned a menu of solutions.”
The Palace official disclosed that the U.S. has committed USD 32 million in training and services to the Philippines, mainly for law enforcement.
He said the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) was touched upon and “it was affirmed that whatever works for the Philippines will be what will work.”
According to Abella, climate change was also on the agenda, with Kerry being “helpful in defining certain issues about the Paris pact” and PRRD saying that “the Philippines will work out just as long as everything is fair.”
On the West Philippine Sea, the Malacanang spokesperson said, “There were no agreements regarding that except that the President did mention that whatever talks we will engage in will begin with the ruling, that will be the foundation, the ruling regarding the area.”
Abella said Kerry was listening very intently when the President mentioned about how the