US congressional delegation meet with PH President
American Samoa Delegate Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen was part of the first U.S. congressional delegation to meet with recently inaugurated President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. of the Philippines.
The group of five lawmakers, led by Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations East Asia, Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Subcommittee, also included Rep. John Garamendi (CA-03), Rep. Don Beyer (VA-08), and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA-47). The group concluded their Asia congressional delegation travel this week in the Philippines.
“It was a pleasure to be a part of the first U.S. congressional delegation to meet with President Marcos in the Philippines, affirming our nations’ shared interests, and conveying the best wishes of American Samoa’s Filipino community,” said Amata. “It is especially meaningful to take part in multiple efforts to stress US. support for a free press, human rights, and the need to reject politically motivated imprisonment, as a new commitment to these principles would strengthen the U.S.-Philippines alliance as our nations work together for security in the region.”
During their visit, the delegation met with the U.S. Embassy deputy chief of mission Heather Variava and other U.S. Embassy personnel to discuss United States-Philippines relations. The group also met with U.S. director of the Asian Development Bank Chantale Wong to discuss the bank’s work in the region.
On Thursday, the delegation became the first U.S. congressional delegation to meet with Marcos since he assumed office on June 30 this year. During this meeting, the delegation reaffirmed the importance of the relationship between the two countries and discussed regional security challenges. They discussed ways to support the Philippines efforts to turn to more renewable energy. The delegation raised concerns regarding the human rights record under the previous government of the Philippines and expressed their hope that Marcos would set a new tone for the importance of human rights and freedom of the press.
Later, the delegation met with participants in the Aling Tindera network, which receives funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Clean Cities, Blue Ocean initiative. This effort provides a funding stream for local women-owned stores that serve as collection points for post-consumer plastic waste.
The delegation met with the Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo and Secretary of Justice Jesus Crispin Remulla. During these meetings, the delegation discussed cooperation on renewable energy, U.S. support for human rights, press freedom, and LGBTQIA+ rights, and regional security issues, including the South China Sea.
On Friday, the delegation concluded their travel by visiting with former senator Leila de Lima, who remains imprisoned on politically motivated charges.
The United States and the Philippines have historical ties, and Amata was pleased to support the Congressional Gold Medal in 2017 for Filipino veterans of World War II, as the U.S. officially honored these important contributions to the cause of freedom. (PR)