ENDURING U.S.-PHL TIES AMIDST THE PANDEMIC
The recent donation of more than 2.2 million doses of Pfizer vaccines from the United States through Covax is a testament on how the world’s most powerful country values its allies such as the Philippines. It reflects on the strong people-to-people connection between the U.S. and the Philippines and the military and economic ties between these two nations.
It has been the bedrock of bilateral connection between the U.S. and the Philippines for more than seven decades now.
As pundits claim, the arrival of the U.S.-made vaccines has bolstered the government’s vaccination program with the reported marked increase on those trooping to the vaccination sites nationwide, including Baguio City.
We share the view that the rollout of such vaccines with higher efficacy rating in risk areas is timely due to the reported detection in the country of the Delta variant of concern.
But we cannot agree more with the claim of the Department of Health that the best vaccine is the one that is available in its bid to convince Filipinos to get vaccinated following deferral and refusal by many individuals, including frontliners, to get jabbed with vaccines coming from China and other countries.
Aside from the 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine that the Philippines has purchased from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, the country is expecting a vaccine donation from the U.S. of close to a million doses by next month, which could further boost the government’s campaign for people to get the jabs and ease issues caused by erratic and limited vaccine supplies.
Transcending political and human rights issues hounding the Duterte government, we laud the U.S. government for its unwavering support to the country during this pandemic and in difficult times during disasters, calamities, and armed conflicts, such as the Marawi siege.
Back home here in the Cordillera, especially in Baguio and Benguet, the U.S. government through the United States Agency for International Development, has reached out to communities in the aftermath of deadly typhoons that have devastated several communities in the past.
In 2014, the USAID granted more than P14 million to support disaster risk reduction activities of several local government units in Benguet.
Since the establishment of the diplomatic relations between the Philippines and the U.S. in 1946 and the formalization of the Mutual Defense Treaty between the two nations in 1951, this country and its people continue to benefit from the gains of the longest alliance in Southeast Asia.
Such alliance also further strengthens the bond between Filipino and American people.
This brings us to the issue of the West Philippine Sea where the current administration maintains a “defeatist” attitude while the U.S. continues to reject China’s claim to waters beyond 12 nautical miles from the islands in the Spratlys.
Along with millions of patriotic Filipinos, we stand with America in asserting that the Philippines must enjoy its sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the natural resources in its exclusive economic zone free of harassments and bullying from China’s military force. It is important that Filipinos take to heart this international issue, as the future of the Philippines floats in the West Philippine Sea, as former U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim puts it.
It is our hope that America’s unwavering support and assistance to the Philippines will be felt more in this time of the pandemic by way of donating more of the much-needed vaccines in order to achieve herd immunity the sooner.
We are grateful that the U.S. has chosen to reciprocate the government leader’s vindictiveness towards America with kindness and respect, which are the shared values that have made the bond between these two nations thrive.