OBAMA PAYS TRIBUTE TO 'YOLANDA' FIRST RESPONDERS

United States president Barack Obama on Tuesday talked about “Roy, George, Mike and Leo,” the main characters in an “incredible story” which he said best demonstrates the alliance between the Philippines and the US. Speaking before a crowd of Filipino and American troops and a sprinkling of World War II veterans at the Philippine Army gymnasium in Fort Bonifacio, Obama said the four – Philippine Navy Seal Captain Roy Trinidad, US Marine Mike Wylie, US Air Force Major George Apalisok and US Army Major Leo Liebrich were the first ‘responders’ after typhoon Yolanda hit land in Eastern Visayas in November 8 last year. “We are proud of your outstanding service,” said Obama, who asked the four officers to stand and ‘accept our thanks.’ Obama said “few people realize is that it (response to Yolanda) started all with a single aircraft carrying a handful of Filipino and American troops and civilians. “The storm hit land that Friday. The very next morning, the first aircraft took off—a Philippine C-130 carrying Captain Roy Trinidad, a Philippine Navy SEAL; Colonel Mike Wylie, United States Marines; and Major George Apalisok, U.S. Air Force. Just hours after the storm passed, with Tacloban devastated, they landed at the airport,” related Obama. “And because of individuals like these, thousands were evacuated to safety, and what started with a few men on that first day became a global relief effort that saved countless lives,” said Obama. “Roy, the Philippine Navy SEAL—George, Mike, Leo—they are here today. George also happens to be a proud Filipino-American,” Obama said.

(ALSO) Palace: No greater assurance than Obama's word

Malacañang is satisfied with the statement of President Barack Obama that the United States will keep its commitment to defend the Philippines. Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the statements of Obama and other US government officials show a "consistency" in the position of the Philippines in the long-standing territorial disputes over the South China Sea. Lacierda added that the Philippines can invoke treaties and the newly signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement that the US has an obligation to help its ally. "The fact that President Obama said 'The commitment of the United States to the Philippines is iron-clad' — there can be no greater assurance than that," Lacierda said at a televised press briefing on Wednesday. Obama concluded his two-day visit here on Tuesday, when he reminded some 500 Filipino and American servicemen that the alliance of the US and the Philippines has been bound by the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) for over 60 years. In his speech at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City, Obama cited a provision of the MDT which said that the Philippines and the US have pledged to defend themselves against external armed attacks. "Our commitment to defend the Philippines is ironclad and the United States will keep that commitment, because allies never stand alone," Obama said. His remarks came a day after he failed to categorically say that the US will indeed help the Philippines, stating instead that they do not intend to "counter" or "contain" the Asian giant. But like Malacañang, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) also believes that the US will aid its treaty ally if tensions in the South China Sea escalate into armed conflicts.

ALSO: US to aid PH vs attack

Homebound. US President Barack Obama boards Air Force One at the Nino Aquino International Airport for home on Tuesday after delivering a fresh warning to China against using force to resolve territorial disputes—even as he pledged “ironclad” military support for the Philippines. Obama cites ‘ironclad’ alliance under ‘51 pact. US President Barack Obama ended an Asian tour Tuesday with a warning to China against using force in territorial disputes and said the United States had an ironclad commitment to defend the Philippines in case of attack. The barbs ensured a tense finish to a four-nation trip dominated by the worsening maritime rows between China and US allies in the region, which have triggered fears of military conflict. “We believe that nations and peoples have the right to live in security and peace, to have their sovereignty and territorial integrity respected,” Obama told a gathering of US and Filipino troops in Manila. “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.” Close American ally the Philippines has been embroiled in one of the highest-profile territorial disputes with China, over tiny islets, reefs and rocks in the South China Sea. China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, which is believed to contain huge deposits of oil and gas, even waters and islands or reefs close to its neighbors. The Philippines, which has one of the weakest militaries in the region, has repeatedly called on longtime ally the United States for help as China has increased military and diplomatic pressure to take control of the contested areas. The Philippines and the United States signed an agreement on Monday that will allow a greater US military presence on Filipino bases. Obama sought on Tuesday to reassure the Philippines that the United States would support its ally in the event of being attacked, citing a 1951 mutual defense treaty between the two nations. “This treaty means our two nations pledge, and I am quoting, ‘our common determination to defend themselves from external armed attacks’,” Obama said.

ALSO: 3 Cabinet men steal show in state dinner for Obama

Entertainers were on hand to perform during the state dinner for US President Barack Obama on Monday night. But what appeared to have stolen the show were 3 Aquino Cabinet members who serenaded Obama with what is supposed to be his favorite song, Marvin Gaye’s "What’s Going On." The song is known to be an anthem of the civil rights movement in the United States in the 1960s. While the dinner was closed to coverage after the traditional toasts of the 2 leaders, what did appear on social media is a video of secretaries Florencio "Butch" Abad, Rene Almendras and Rogelio 'Babes' Singson serenading the President of the United States with his favorite song, a number Obama enjoyed. CONTINUE READING....


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Obama pays tribute to ‘Yolanda’ first responders


Greeting to a former President. President Barack Obama shakes hands with former President Fidel Ramos after delivering his remarks to US and Philippine troops in Fort Bonifacio.
AFP

MANILA, MAY 5, 2014
(MANILA TIMES) By Macon Ramos-Araneta - United States president Barack Obama on Tuesday talked about “Roy, George, Mike and Leo,” the main characters in an “incredible story” which he said best demonstrates the alliance between the Philippines and the US.

Speaking before a crowd of Filipino and American troops and a sprinkling of World War II veterans at the Philippine Army gymnasium in Fort Bonifacio, Obama said the four – Philippine Navy Seal Captain Roy Trinidad, US Marine Mike Wylie, US Air Force Major George Apalisok and US Army Major Leo Liebrich were the first ‘responders’ after typhoon Yolanda hit land in Eastern Visayas in November 8 last year.

“We are proud of your outstanding service,” said Obama, who asked the four officers to stand and ‘accept our thanks.’

Obama said “few people realize is that it (response to Yolanda) started all with a single aircraft carrying a handful of Filipino and American troops and civilians.

“The storm hit land that Friday. The very next morning, the first aircraft took off—a Philippine C-130 carrying Captain Roy Trinidad, a Philippine Navy SEAL; Colonel Mike Wylie, United States Marines; and Major George Apalisok, U.S. Air Force. Just hours after the storm passed, with Tacloban devastated, they landed at the airport,” related Obama.

“And because of individuals like these, thousands were evacuated to safety, and what started with a few men on that first day became a global relief effort that saved countless lives,” said Obama.

“Roy, the Philippine Navy SEAL—George, Mike, Leo—they are here today. George also happens to be a proud Filipino-American,” Obama said.

The American president said that in the days that followed, Filipinos and Americans worked together—setting up a medical station, clearing debris from the runway and reopening that airport.

He said Filipino soldiers unloaded aid from an American aircraft while American troops loaded the supplies into Filipino helicopters.

“And when all the cargo was off those aircraft, our troops worked together to help local residents aboard so that they could be evacuated to safety. And over and over, grateful Filipinos responded with a simple word – ‘salamat,” he said.

Obama said Filipino and American soldiers had been training together for many years, and they always worked as a team.

During the state dinner held at the Palace on Monday, Obama had said that the American people were also hopeful that they would recover from the deadly tornadoes that hit the central and southern parts of the US over the weekened.

He said the American victims were inspired by the resiliency shown by the Filipinos in the aftermath of the super typhoon that ravaged the country.

“After Yolanda, America grieved with you and stood with you, but we were also inspired by your resilience and your determination to care for those who have been affected,” said Obama.

“Tonight, our hearts actually grieve for some of our fellow Americans back home who have been devastated by very terrible storms and tornadoes, but we draw our strength from your example. For even as we grieve, we know that we will recover and we will rebuild these communities that have been affected because people will care after each other,” he said.

Obama also offered his deepest condolence to all the Americans who had lost their loved ones and hailed the heroic efforts of those who immediately responded and rushed to help the victims.

“I want everyone affected by this tragedy to know that FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and the Federal government is on the ground, and will help our fellow Americans in need, working with state and local officials. And I want everybody to know that your country will be there to help you recover and rebuild for how long it takes.”

Over 6,000 people died and billions of pesos of inftrastructure and livelihood were lost when Yolanda wrought havoc in Eastern Visayas last year.

Aquino said the country’s experience with “Yolanda” showed the entire world how vulnerable it is, as well as other developing countries, to natural disasters.

But he said he is grateful for the support provided by the US to the Philippines in helping rebuild the lives of the people in typhoon-stricken communities.

The President said he will never forget such kindness and compassion coming from the Americans.

“As the United States and the American people have always been ready to support us in the aftermath of disasters, so, too, do we look forward to the continued cooperation of the US and the rest of our partners in the international community, as we undertake the task of building back better communities affected by typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda),” he said.

Aquino added that the Philippines continues to look forward to cooperating with the US and the rest of its partners in the international community in its rehabilitation efforts.

“The Philippines and the US made a promising start as both countries discussed how their partnership can be enhanced through building climate-resilient communities,” he said.

“These kinds of strong communities are important, not only in withstanding disasters, but also in fostering inclusive growth across the entire country,” he added.

FROM PH8ILSTAR

Palace: No greater assurance than Obama's word By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated April 30, 2014 - 2:30pm 1 19 googleplus0 0


US President Barack Obama and President Benigno Aquino III in a joint press conference in Malacañang last Monday, April 28. AP Photo

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang is satisfied with the statement of President Barack Obama that the United States will keep its commitment to defend the Philippines.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the statements of Obama and other US government officials show a "consistency" in the position of the Philippines in the long-standing territorial disputes over the South China Sea.

Lacierda added that the Philippines can invoke treaties and the newly signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement that the US has an obligation to help its ally.

"The fact that President Obama said 'The commitment of the United States to the Philippines is iron-clad' — there can be no greater assurance than that," Lacierda said at a televised press briefing on Wednesday.

Obama concluded his two-day visit here on Tuesday, when he reminded some 500 Filipino and American servicemen that the alliance of the US and the Philippines has been bound by the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) for over 60 years.

In his speech at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City, Obama cited a provision of the MDT which said that the Philippines and the US have pledged to defend themselves against external armed attacks.

"Our commitment to defend the Philippines is ironclad and the United States will keep that commitment, because allies never stand alone," Obama said.

His remarks came a day after he failed to categorically say that the US will indeed help the Philippines, stating instead that they do not intend to "counter" or "contain" the Asian giant.

But like Malacañang, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) also believes that the US will aid its treaty ally if tensions in the South China Sea escalate into armed conflicts.

"Under the Mutual Defense Treaty, the United States will come to the assistance of the Philippines if our metropolitan territory is attacked or if our Armed Forces are attacked in the Pacific area," the DFA said in a statement on Wednesday.

The DFA explained that in a diplomatic letter in 1999, the United States affirmed that the South China Sea is considered as part of the Pacific area.

Obama has renewed calls for a resolution of the maritime disputes without coercion and intimidation, but he also reiterated the US' position against taking sides in territorial disputes.

"We believe that international law must be upheld, that freedom of navigation must be preserved and commerce must not be impeded," Obama said.

FROM MANILA TIMES

US to aid PH vs attack By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Apr. 30, 2014 at 12:01am

Obama cites ‘ironclad’ alliance under ‘51 pact


Homebound. US President Barack Obama boards Air Force One at the Nino Aquino International Airport for home on Tuesday after delivering a fresh warning to China against using force to resolve territorial disputes—even as he pledged “ironclad” military support for the Philippines. AFP

MANILA -US President Barack Obama ended an Asian tour Tuesday with a warning to China against using force in territorial disputes and said the United States had an ironclad commitment to defend the Philippines in case of attack.

The barbs ensured a tense finish to a four-nation trip dominated by the worsening maritime rows between China and US allies in the region, which have triggered fears of military conflict.

“We believe that nations and peoples have the right to live in security and peace, to have their sovereignty and territorial integrity respected,” Obama told a gathering of US and Filipino troops in Manila.

“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.”

Close American ally the Philippines has been embroiled in one of the highest-profile territorial disputes with China, over tiny islets, reefs and rocks in the South China Sea.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, which is believed to contain huge deposits of oil and gas, even waters and islands or reefs close to its neighbors.

The Philippines, which has one of the weakest militaries in the region, has repeatedly called on longtime ally the United States for help as China has increased military and diplomatic pressure to take control of the contested areas.

The Philippines and the United States signed an agreement on Monday that will allow a greater US military presence on Filipino bases.

Obama sought on Tuesday to reassure the Philippines that the United States would support its ally in the event of being attacked, citing a 1951 mutual defense treaty between the two nations.

“This treaty means our two nations pledge, and I am quoting, ‘our common determination to defend themselves from external armed attacks’,” Obama said.

“And no potential aggressor can be under the illusion that either of them stands alone. In other words, our commitment to defend the Philippines is ironclad. The United States will keep that commitment because allies will never stand alone.”

Nevertheless, Obama did not specifically mention coming to the aid of the Philippines if there were a conflict over the contested South China Sea areas, as his hosts had hoped.

On the first leg of his Asian tour in Tokyo, Obama had made such a pledge of support to Japan, which is locked in its own dispute with China over rival claims to islands in the East China Sea.

Obama’s nuanced position on the Philippines was part of a tight-rope act he had tried to perform during his trip—reassuring allies wary about China’s perceived increased hostility while not antagonizing the leadership in Beijing.

While offering pledges of protection to Japan and the Philippines, Obama also insisted the United States was not seeking to counter or contain China.

And reflecting the difficulties of Obama’s balancing act, there were complaints in the Philippines that he had not offered explicit support in the event of a conflict over the contested South China Sea areas.

Before flying back to Washington, Obama addressed Filipino and American war veterans and soldiers inside the packed Philippine Army gym in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

US Embassy spokesperson Kurt Hoyer said the American troops were participants in the Balikatan joint military exercises or members of the Joint US Military Assistance Group.

The Mutual Defense Treaty is the backbone of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which was signed by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and US Ambassador Philip Goldberg hours before Obama arrived in the country Monday.

Under the EDCA agreement, Obama said American forces can begin rotating through Filipino airfields and ports.

“We’ll train and exercise together more to bring our militaries even closer, and to support your efforts to strengthen your armed forces. We’ll improve our ability to respond even faster to disasters like

Yolanda. Today, I thank the people of the Philippines for welcoming our service members as your friends and partners,” said Obama in the event which attended by government officials led by Vice President Jejomar Binay, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Interior and Local Government Sec. Manuel Roxas II, Senator Loren Legarda, Rep. Rodolfo Biazon and former President Fidel Ramos.

Obama said the EDCA is the beginning of a new chapter in the alliance between the two countries. He noted that deepening this alliance is a part of their 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,” he said.

“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,” he said.

At the same time, the US President admitted the injustice done to many Filipino veterans whose service was never fully recognized by the United States and who were denied the compensation they had been promised.

To address this, his administration worked with the US Congress to right the wrong, he said. To date, the government has reviewed the records and processed the claims of nearly 20,000 Filipino veterans of World War II and their families, who finally received the compensation they earned.

“And it was the right thing to do,” Obama said, honoring the war veterans present.

“Among them are men who fought at Bataan and Corregidor, and a survivor of those hellish prisoner of war camps. Some fought in the resistance, including nurse Carolina Garcia Delfin. These veterans are now in their nineties. They are an inspiration to us all, and I’d ask those who can stand to stand or give a wave so that we can all salute their service.

“The spirit of these veterans, their strength, their solidarity – I see it in you as well when you train and exercise together to stay ready for the future, when our special forces—some of you here today—advise and assist our Filipino partners in their fight against terrorism, and when you respond to crises together, as you did after Yolanda. Along with your civilian partners, you rushed into the disaster zone, pulled people from the rubble, delivered food and medicine. You showed what friends can do when we take care of each other,” said Obama.

Recalling the battles for Bataan and Corregidor, he said: “The loss of life was grievous, and hardly a Filipino family was untouched by the tragedy... But the heroic struggle brought out the best in the Filipino character in the face of adversity and served as a beacon to freedom-loving peoples everywhere.”

“The American cemetery here in Manila—the final resting place of so many Americans and Filipinos who made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom of this country in that war.

“These Americans and Filipinos rest in peace as they stood in war – side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder – balikatan,” he said.

He said together, Filipinos and Americans endured the agony of the death marches and the horror of the prisoner of war camps. Many never made it out.

“In those years of occupation, Filipino resistance fighters kept up the struggle. And hundreds of thousands of Filipinos fought under the American flag,” said Obama, who said there was a connection between the veterans from World War II and the men and women serving today, bound across the generations by the spirit of their alliance, Filipinos and Americans standing together.

“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,” said Obama, who took off his jacket because of the sweltering heat, and promised the men in uniform his speech would not be long.

“I thank President Aquino for his partnership and the deeper ties that we forged yesterday. I’m especially proud to be here as we remember one of the defining moments of our shared history—the 70th anniversary of the battle of Leyte during World War II and the beginning of the liberation of the Philippines,” he said.

Obama continuously waved as he stepped inside Air Force One shortly after 11 a.m. at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, which signaled the end of his two-day visit.

His plane took off 11:28 a.m.

Manila was the last stop in a four-nation tour of Asia. He had earlier visited Japan, South Korea and Malaysia.

In the Palace, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said Obama had vowed to help the Philippines establish a coast watch center to enhance its maritime border security and domain. – With AFP, Sara Susanne Fabunan

FROM ABS-CBN

3 Cabinet men steal show in state dinner for Obama by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News Posted at 04/29/2014 1:34 PM | Updated as of 04/29/2014 11:26 PM


SCREENGRAB FROM THE VIDEO: TO WATCH VIDEO CLICK PURISIMA'S account

MANILA (3rd UPDATE) - Entertainers were on hand to perform during the state dinner for US President Barack Obama on Monday night.

But what appeared to have stolen the show were 3 Aquino Cabinet members who serenaded Obama with what is supposed to be his favorite song, Marvin Gaye’s "What’s Going On."

The song is known to be an anthem of the civil rights movement in the United States in the 1960s.

While the dinner was closed to coverage after the traditional toasts of the 2 leaders, what did appear on social media is a video of secretaries Florencio "Butch" Abad, Rene Almendras and Rogelio 'Babes' Singson serenading the President of the United States with his favorite song, a number Obama enjoyed.

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima uploaded the video in his social media account.

In the article, "After 30 Years - Marvin Gaye's landmark album "What's Going On?" by Eljeer Hawkins on Justice Issue 24 April-May 2001 as published on website redbug.com, the song "What's Going On" is from an album of the same name. It was described as ”a musical, Black-Detroit reflection on the social landscape of the 60s and 70s. The conditions of working class and poor people in the US and worldwide under capitalism have gotten worse since then and 'What's Going On' still serves as a soundtrack to our reality."

Almendras told media the number was an attempt to tailor the entertainment to the personality of the guest, in this case President Obama. He said Obama enjoyed it, so did members of his delegation like National Security Adviser Susan Rice.


MARVIN GAYE VIDEO URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ev2yO-OHc58

During the 60s, the US was mired in a war in Vietnam and Southeast Asia so unpopular that it gave birth to a worldwide anti-war movement. Obama was just in his formative years when the song came out.

Other songs performed were "Da Coconut Cut" and towards the close of the program, the song "Happy" from the movie "Despicable Me 2."

WHO'S WHO

Three-hundred guests jampacked the state dinner held in honor of US President Barack Obama Monday night. It was a gathering of who’s who in Philippine society, with high officials of government from different parties and persuasions in attendance.

The world’s most powerful man sat in the same state dinner with 2 former presidents---Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada—the latter had been convicted of plunder and pardoned by former President Gloria Arroyo.

Lawmakers supposedly linked to the pork barrel scam were also in the same dinner, like Senator Gringo Honasan and Bongbong Marcos.

Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senate President Franklin Drilon, House Speaker Sonny Belmonte, Supreme Court Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno and the Aquino Cabinet members were also in full force.

Aquino family members were also in attendance led by the President’s sisters, Ballsy, Pinky, Viel and Kris.


Kris with Boy Abunda, sisters, and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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