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The changing of the guard

As Ambassador Philip Goldberg bids farewell to the Philippines, the United States announced the appointment of Sung Y. Kim as the new US ambassador to the Philippines. The former US ambassador to South Korea, he will be the first Asian-American ambassador assigned to the Philippines.

Ambassador Goldberg, although quiet in demeanor, has made a highly favorable impression here. It started shortly after his arrival, when hearing of the devestation caused by super-typhoon Yolanda, he immediately rushed to Tacloban City to help deal with the aftermath.

In a farewell press conference held at the House of Representatives, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas personally presented Ambassador Goldberg with the Congressional Golden Mace Award, recognizing his efforts in further enchancing the ties between the Philippines and the United States. The House leaders noted that it was on Ambassador Goldberg’s watch that the Enchanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) was signed between the United States and the Philippines.

Ambassador Goldberg, in his response, reaffirmed the United States’ “iron-clad” support for the Philippines. He cited the recent joint exercises under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and US troops as well as US humanitarian aid. He said that the US had been able to provide thousands of jobs through business process outsourcing firms, as Americans came to the Philippines “because they like the people.” “So these are all important things that contribute to the camaraderie between our armed forces and also contribute to the friendship between our countries.” “We have this great commitment, as President Obama said, an iron-clad commitment to the defense of the Philippines and that reflects the friendship and partnership of the people of the two countries.”