Thursday, June 10, 2010

Barack Obama congratulates Noynoy Aquino

US President Barack Obama and Philippine president-elect Noynoy Aquino just spoke over the phone this morning. Obama congratulated Aquino for being the 15th president of the Republic. He also invited Aquino to a meeting soon at the White House.

Earlier, the Chinese government also extended its warmest congratulations to the son of the country's democracy icons, whose phenomenal and surprising win caught the country by surprise.

Unlike his predecessor Mrs. Arroyo, Aquino did not seek Obama's call. It was the US president himself who called the newly proclaimed President of the Republic, without any prodding from Aquino's camp. This shows how high the US regards the new administration.

The US and the Philippines are long-time allies. Under the Aquino administration, the relationship is expected to continue and probably, be warmer than the previous dispensation.

It remains to be seen, however, how the Philippines will deal with contentious issues with the US, especially the Visiting Forces Agreement or VFA. This deal, which certain quarters have demanded a review, remains a thornish issue between the two nations. Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago has demanded for a rescission of the deal, following certain incidents of violations committed by the visiting US forces.

Will Aquino call for a review of the country's defense treaties with the US?

In a highly classified paper I read, the Philippines is regarded right now as the most important ally in Southeast Asia by the United States. Apart from its strategic location, the Philippines is also being eyed as the diplomatic ally of the US in the APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation). APEC is becoming the region's equivalent to the European Union (EU). US trade will be affected should APEC decides to implement a one currency policy in the region and further strengthen its plans of creating a One Asian market.

The Philippines is also a very strategic defense partner of the United States. Both countries have been closely cooperating in the fight against terrorism. US forces based in Mindanao have been seen fighting side by side with their Filipino counterparts in Basilan and Jolo, two islands known for cuddling the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). Apart from helping gather intelligence data, the US also supplies Philippine troops with sophisticated weapons and trains them on counter-terrorism. This will, undoubtedly, continue under the Aquino administration.

What is under a cloud of doubt though is how will the Philippines position itself with regards to the Korean question. North Korean just attacked a sub of its compatriots in the South and the US is keenly observing the situation. Former Philippine president Gloria Arroyo just visited the North and renewed ties with Asia's rogue state, and we all know how the previous dispensation has strong ties with China, who is a supporter of North Korea.

Will the Philippines support the US position or remains "neutral" in deference to its other ally, China.

RP-China relations have been warm and accommodating since 2001. Most governmental projects were granted to China, even those involving sensitive industries, like the telecommunications. Now, will the Aquino administration continue these deals, especially those involving the exploitation of our natural resources?

As what the president-elect told the media in his first press conference yesterday, shortly after he is proclaimed as President, Aquino said he will review everything so that the most concrete and accurate solution will be given.