Last September 14, 2017 (Thursday), United States Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Y. Kim visited the University of Santo Tomas and interacted with UST’s student leaders at the Dr. Robert C. Sy Grand Ballroom of the Blessed Buenaventura G. Paredes, O.P. Building. The theme of the discussion, held in a town-hall format, was the state of Philippine-US relations.
During the interaction, Ambassador Kim was asked about the United States in relation to climate change, immigration, the West Philippine Sea, the rise of China as a global power, the Philippines’s attempt at an independent foreign policy, the anti-drug campaign, and his work in foreign service.
In answering the question on climate change, Kim said that despite the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Climate Change Agreement, efforts to reduce its carbon footprint remained in force. He said that US scientists have remained steadfast in their campaign to address the issues. “The strong partnership we have with the Philippines can likewise help here, because we have very good academic and scientific ties. Our researches can help address this,” Kim said.
The US Ambassador cited that aid to the Philippines over the last five years reached 65 billion pesos, and a lot of the funding went to scientific research projects and collaborations, which looked into climate change issues.
When asked about President Trump’s new immigration policies, Kim allayed fears by stating that first, on their level in the US Embassy in the Philippines, no change has been seen in the processes and the volume of visa applications they handle, as the United States “wants more and more Filipinos to come over, whether for travel, for study, for work, and even immigration.”
Kim likewise said that the new policies were geared more toward implementing “existing laws and regulations.” “This is not really new. We are simply enforcing existing laws to protect the homeland from external threats” for the safety of both citizens and foreign guests.
West Philippine Sea and China
Kim emphasized that the United States is a non-claimant state to the West Philippine Sea, and repeated his country’s call for adherence to the rule of law and the use of peaceful means to solve disputes. He likewise emphasized that “claimant countries should not do unilateral actions that will disrupt the status quo.”
China as a global power
“We never had a problem with China being a global power, nor have we had a problem with the Philippines aiming for better relations with China,” said Kim. The US Ambassador said that the economic forecasts have proven true, that there is so much potential for growth in the Asia-Pacific, and it is to the world’s benefit if this growth will be harnessed through positive and cordial relations.