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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > Former Secretaries of State > Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell > Speeches and Remarks > 2003 > May

Remarks at Luncheon in Honor of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Philippines

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Ben Franklin Room
Washington, DC
May 19, 2003

Left to Right: Mr. Arroyo, Mrs. Powell, President Arroyo, Secretary Powell in the receiving line in Thomas Jefferson Room for lunch guests.SECRETARY POWELL: Ladies and gentlemen, if you would please be seated. Madame President, Attorney Arroyo, distinguished guests, friends of the Philippines, it is a great pleasure to welcome back to Washington one of America's closest friends, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

President Arroyo embodies the deep-rooted ties that bind some 80 million Filipinos and 290 million Americans together. As a student at Georgetown University, she learned the ways of Washington. As a mother, she wisely sent her daughter to follow in her footsteps at Georgetown, ensuring the tie would continue for another generation. I have a son who is a graduate of Georgetown as well, Madame President.

To further ties, President Arroyo has reached out to the 2 million Filipinos and Filipino Americans in this country who are the living bond between our two great peoples. And two years ago, President Arroyo visited this country to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.

Now, therefore, it is only fitting that we welcome President Arroyo again as the first Asian leader honored by a state visit by President Bush. Welcome, Madame President. (Applause.)

The United States-Philippine relationship is built on heroic deeds. The 50,000 living veterans of the Philippines campaigns in World War II attest to that fundamental truth. In peace and in war, and now in the fight against terrorism, the Filipino and American peoples have stood literally shoulder-to-shoulder for over half a century.

It was gratifying, but not at all surprising, that President Arroyo was the first Asian leader to call President Bush after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. For the Philippine people are no strangers to the pain of terrorism. They have suffered from terrorism at home, in places with names like Davao City, Zamboanga and Koronadal. And Filipinos have suffered from terrorism abroad in sites as far-flung from Manila as New York and in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Madame President, please accept my condolences and the condolences of the American people on the losses your country suffered last Monday along with us in the Riyadh terrorist bombings.

Having faced the evil of terrorism, the Philippines has been a staunch ally in the global effort to defeat terrorism. Even before 9/11, the Philippines police captured Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, captured him while he was planning terrorist atrocities of breathtaking scope.

President Bush and the American people share President Arroyo's eloquent belief that evil must not be allowed to rule even an inch of this earth, and we are acting on that belief.

Under President Arroyo's leadership, the Philippines is an essential member of both the international coalition against terror and the coalition of the willing which eliminated the menace of Saddam Hussein. At the same time, the Philippines continues to confront terrorist groups within its own borders, and I am proud that the United States has helped President Arroyo and the Philippines authorities to do so.

President Arroyo and her government are an equally staunch ally in our common quest to expand the circle of democracy and development, and to put new hope in the hearts of millions of men, women and children in the Philippines and around the world.

She came into office with a pledge to heal her divided nation. She has called upon Filipinos to join with her in building a strong republic that is free from violence, poverty and corruption, and she has backed that call with reforms.

Madame President, we have all been inspired by your efforts and your example, and every one of us in this room stands ready to help you and the Filipino people achieve your dreams of peace and prosperity.

So we gather here today as the closest of allies, united by a shared suffering and shared achievements, a common culture and deeply held values. And this day we are also united by a shared joy in President Arroyo's visit to the United States.

So to President Arroyo, our Philippine friends, let us all now lift our glasses in a toast to friendship, partnership and success. Mabuhay.

(Toast.)

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much, and now President Arroyo.

(Applause.)

PRESIDENT ARROYO: Thank you, Secretary Powell, Mrs. Powell, officials of the U.S. Government, excellencies of the diplomatic corps, members of the Senate and Congress, both the U.S. and the Philippine Senate and Congress, honored guests, ladies and gentlemen.

First of all, thank you, Secretary Powell, for the kind and inspiring words, and thank you for the warm friendship accorded to the Filipino people in this visit. We had significant discussions with President Bush this morning. These discussions clarified the path our relations should take. As the Asia Pacific region navigates through the perspectives required by the new realities of the continuing war on terrorism, especially by the coalition led by the United States, the continuing war on terrorism has highlighted the issues about the power of the United Nations, the meaning of victory of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, the relation among religions and civilizations.

The end result of the U.S.-led coalition victory will be democracy, a more open society and greater personal freedoms for the people of Iraq. Nonetheless, the coalition actions in Iraq are being used by some around the world who have a very dangerous agenda as an opportunity to ignite religious tensions. Given our region's regional diversity in Asia and the ambiguous relationship that some have with the U.S., Asia Pacific nations must be resolute in our efforts to promote peace and order within our own borders and throughout the region, but, at the same time, we must find a way to support continued engagement with the U.S. at a time when there are forces around the world that seek to work against this relationship.

The new perspective also must recognize that strong relations with the U.S. will contribute greatly to a regional prosperity in Asia and stability in the world, as well as greater success in addressing terrorism, which is the most significant threat to peace and stability in my region, if not in the entire world.

I congratulate you, Mr. Secretary. I congratulate the U.S. leaders for the firmness and confidence you and your team have pursued in pushing for America's diplomatic goals. We appreciate your leadership, not only in the fight against terrorism but in seeking to deliver a decent life to people in our region under the ideals of democracy, freedom and a genuine sense of community.

Mr. Secretary, your work is difficult in a very difficult time like this. But let me say, in private* to you as a person, that your personal touch has won many friends for America. May I therefore invite all of you to join me in a toast for Secretary Powell and Mrs. Powell and the Secretary's team and for continued blessings of the Almighty for the Philippines and the United States. Mabuhay.

(Toast.)


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