|November 4, 2008|
Speeches by Secretary Elaine L. Chao
Remarks Prepared for Delivery by
Madame President, Ambassador Kenney, Ambassador Marciel good evening and welcome.
On behalf of President George W. Bush and my fellow citizens of the United States, let me add my heartfelt condolences to you and to the people of the Philippines following the terrible tragedies of Typhoon Frank and the capsizing of the ferry, Princess of Stars. Our many thoughts and prayers go out to your country during this very difficult time.
Honored guests, it is indeed a privilege and pleasure for me to introduce our Guest of Honor, Her Excellency, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, President of the Philippines.
President Arroyo is a woman of considerable accomplishment. And, she and her country are old and steadfast friends and allies of the United States.
President Arroyo was elected as Senator on her first attempt in politics in 1992, and she was re-elected in 1995. She was elected as Vice-President of her country in 1998 with almost 13 million votes, the largest mandate in the history of the Philippines in presidential or vice-presidential elections.
In 2001, she was sworn in as the 14th President of the Philippines, the second woman to hold the office. Coincidentally, she was inaugurated on the same day as President George W. Bush.
President Arroyo is one of the most illustrious former students of Georgetown University. She went on from there to earn her doctorate in economics from the University of the Philippines a degree she has put to excellent use throughout her Presidency.
In 2004, President Arroyo again won the Presidential election, gaining a fresh mandate to pursue her top priority: economic renewal. And, her success is in the numbers. Philippines' GDP grew by 7.3 percent in 2007, the fastest rate of growth in over three decades. This capped nine consecutive quarters of growth greater than 5 percent.
Today, relations between our countries remain close, based on a shared history and commitment to democratic principles. Our economic ties are equally close. The U.S. has traditionally been the Philippines' largest foreign investor. Two-way trade in 2007 was over $17 billion.
Also, the historical and cultural ties which bind our two countries continue to be strong. Over 3 million Americans of Philippine ancestry live in the United States and more than 250,000 Americans reside in the Philippines. And, nearly 400,000 Americans visit the Philippines each year.
Over the past seven-plus years, President Arroyo has been instrumental in furthering the security alliance between our countries. She is a steadfast ally in the global war on terror. And, in recognition of our strong alliance, in 2003, the United States designated the Philippines a Major Non-NATO Ally.
The U.S. and Philippines are also working together to address other pressing challenges of our day, including rising international food prices, energy and climate change, and the spread of democracy. Together, we are making tremendous progress in these and other areas.
Madame President to you and your colleagues, a warm welcome. We are always pleased and honored to see old friends and to further strengthen our friendship with your great country.
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