The minute President Barrack Obama set foot in the Philippines for the APEC 2015 on Tuesday, he went directly to visit the main warship of the Philippines.
In his visit, he boarded the Gregorio del Pilar that flew both nations’ flags for that day. He then gifted the Philippines with two warships to use for patrol over the disputed South China Sea. The U.S. and the Philippines have always been close allies.
Ahead of the APEC hosted by the Philippines, Chinese president Xi Jinping said he would not want the issue on South China Sea raised during the summit. China’s foreign minister Liu Zhenmin also held a press conference saying that the summit is not the proper place to discuss the contested region. He, however, believed that “someone” will float the subject around. According to a report from the Voice of America, the minister stressed China’s “great restrain” in handling the dispute despite the islands being “illegally occupied by neighboring countries.”
In his remarks aboard the Philippine warship Gregorio del Pilar, Mr. Obama stressed America’s commitment to the security of the Philippines for more than 70 years. “We have a treaty obligation, an ironclad commitment to the defense of our ally, the Philippines. You can count on the United States,” Mr. Obama said.
“My visit here underscores our shared commitment to the security of the waters of this region and to the freedom of navigation. This watch center was built with U.S. grants. The ship that I just toured, a former U.S. Coast Guard vessel, helps the Philippines respond to disasters, perform counterterrorism missions, and patrol the South China Sea,” he said more. He then announced that the government is giving the Philippine Navy two additional warships that can be use as a research vessel to help map its territorial waters and another U.S. Coast Guard cutter to bolster the Navy’s ability to coduct long-endurance patrols. The ‘gifts’ are “part of our larger plan to increase maritime security assistance to our alliances and our partners across the region – $250 million over the course of two years. More capable navies and partnership with the United States are critical to the security of this region,” the president said.