Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Harry K. Thomas, Jr. at the PHIBLEX 2012 Closing Ceremony, Fort Bonifacio, Friday, October 28, 2011
(As prepared for delivery)
Under Secretary Edilberto Adan
Major General Rustico Guerrero
Brigadier General Eugene Clemen
I am delighted to join you in closing yet another successful PHIBLEX exercise, marking the 28th time our two countries have come together for this purpose. For the past twelve days our two nations’ soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines worked together as a team with a single purpose. The lessons learned during the long hours of exercise are important, but so are the lessons learned during those few moments of rest, when our respective service members had the chance to share a joke, learn some new words, maybe try a little halo-halo, and make a friend for life.
PHIBLEX has a very simple purpose: helping the United States and the Philippines work together to build that safe and secure environment free and democratic nations need to live, work, and prosper.
Our commitment to this shared objective is embodied in our Mutual Defense Treaty, a pillar of our relationship. The Mutual Defense Treaty enables us to work together, it facilitates our cooperation and training, and it allows us to serve our citizens more efficiently and more professionally
Like the Mutual Defense Treaty, PHIBLEX too reflects the longstanding, close relationship between the Philippines and the United States. Our countries share not only a common history, but we also share a mutual commitment to global peace, security and prosperity. PHIBLEX is our chance to practice the skills that allow us to be better partners in disaster relief, in peace-keeping operations, and in counter-terrorism efforts.
A key component of Phiblex is service, and I’d like to highlight some of the community service successes of this exercise. Phiblex partners carried out Medical and Dental Civic Action Projects in Ternate City, Taguig City, Quezon City, and Palawan; as a result, over 5,200 patients received free medical and dental care.
Phiblex looks to the future as well, by building a multi-purpose facility in Ternate that will provide space for scores of children to study, and by refurbishing a classroom in Palawan as well.
Of course, Phiblex offers the opportunity to improve military skills, an opportunity made possible through the hospitality of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. We return the favor by investing over 200 million pesos in exercise-related improvements at various AFP bases. At Basa Air Base alone, over 42 million pesos have been earmarked to build barracks, latrines and a dining facility for both Philippine and U.S. troops, while at Fort Magsaysay over 25 million pesos is being spent on road improvements.
The United States has provided over $507 million in military assistance to the Philippines from 2001 to 2010. We’ve worked with the Armed Forces of the Philippines for nearly a decade to blunt the ability of terrorists to spread violence and fear in the Southern Philippines. We’ve provided radars as part of the Coast Watch System. And we’ve recently transferred a Hamilton Class U.S. Coast Guard Cutter that has now become a proud flagship of the Philippine Navy.
I know, just like past bilateral exercises and activities, all those involved in this year’s Phiblex have enjoyed a sense of camaraderie, teamwork, hard work and good fun. I salute the U.S. and Philippine troops for their success. Let me also extend warm thanks to our hosts, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, We look forward to doing it all again next year.