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Malacañang hails “new spring” for US-Philippine relations with Trump

The Malacañang has welcomed the inauguration of President Trump and his “America First” policy, which promises a “new spring” for US-Philippine relations.

A presidential spokesman said Trump’s new direction aligns closely with President’s Duterte’s foreign policies, and vindicates his recent diplomatic decisions.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said: “The Philippines welcomes President Trump’s foreign policy direction. It promises a more placid and mutually beneficial relationship especially with long-standing allies like us.

“We find resonance with their intention to ‘seek friendship and goodwill and reinforce existing alliances, without imposing America’s way of life on others’.”

“While there is a promise of spring US-ward, as an independent and sovereign nation we will expand our collaboration with other friends and partners in the international community.”

Abella also said Trump’s “America First” policy was similar to the policies of the Duterte administration. “In like manner national interest is the primary consideration that guides President Duterte. His pursuit of peace and order is the bedrock of economic inclusivity and self-sufficiency.”

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Mr Abella also said that the Philippines would focus on strengthening relationships not only with the US, but other countries also. “Our diplomatic ties need to reflect our long-standing relationship but under terms and conditions that protect our people’s interests.”

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, who has been confirmed by President Duterte as his next foreign affairs secretary, also praised Trump’s foreign policy, saying it was “the right of all nations to put their own interests first”.

“We welcome the pronouncement of newly-inaugurated President Trump to seek friendship with other nations while respecting each country’s national interests, he said.

“We can see how, much like President Duterte, President Trump is driven by a strong fervour of patriotism and nationalism.”

Meanwhile, Bayan Muna Party-List Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate was more guarded, but said that Trump’s policy was another reason for Duterte to “pursue a truly independent foreign policy”.

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“Trump’s inaugural address points to an internal shift of US policy to neo-conservatism, that would mean the crackdown of the US government against immigrants and other minorities,” said Zarate, who is the vice chairman of the House Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity.

“This may also lead to a more authoritarian US government that would be intolerant of dissent, criticisms and protests.”

In a policy declaration on its website, the White House said the new administration was committed to a foreign policy focused on American interests and national security.

“Defeating ISIS and other radical Islamic terror groups will be our highest priority. To defeat and destroy these groups, we will pursue aggressive joint and coalition military operations when necessary.

“In addition, the Trump administration will work with international partners to cut off funding for terrorist groups, to expand intelligence sharing, and to engage in cyber-warfare to disrupt and disable propaganda and recruiting.

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“Next, we will rebuild the military. Our Navy has shrunk from more than 500 ships in 1991 to 275 in 2016. Our Air Force is roughly one-third smaller than in 1991. President Trump is committed to reversing this trend, because he knows that our military dominance must be unquestioned.

“Finally, in pursuing a foreign policy based on American interests, we will embrace diplomacy. The world must know that we do not go abroad in search of enemies, that we are always happy when old enemies become friends, and when old friends become allies.

“The world will be more peaceful and more prosperous with a stronger and more respected America,” the White House said.

Also read: A meeting of minds? Trump invites Duterte to the White House and  Duterte and Trump: The beginning of a beautiful friendship?

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