Obama leaves Philippines

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014


UNITED States President Barack Obama left the Philippines on Tuesday morning, capping a four-nation Asian tour aimed at maintaining American leadership in the world's fastest growing economic region.

Obama stepped out of the Marine One helicopter and met with government officials who also welcomed him to Manila on Monday such as Vice President Jejomar Binay and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II.

He also waved at the airport crowd before entering the Air Force One, which took off at 11:29 a.m., or half an hour earlier than the scheduled departure time at 12:05 p.m.

During his two-day state visit, Obama took pride of the newly-inked Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which allows a larger US military presence in the country for a period of 10 years to help improve the Philippines' defense capabilities and capacity to carry out disaster relief and rehabilitation response.

The agreement comes at a time when the Philippines is embroiled in a tense territorial dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea.

Obama did not give a categorical commitment for the US to defend the Philippines in case China resorts to force to assert sovereignty over some islets in the major passageway.

"Our goal is not to counter China. Our goal is not to contain China. Our goal is to make sure that international rules and norms are respected, and that includes in the area of maritime disputes," he said in a joint press briefing on Monday with President Benigno Aquino III.

The American leader, however, maintained that the US, bound by treaty alliance, has an "ironclad" commitment to defend the Filipinos from foreign attack.

Before leaving Manila, Obama attended the launch of an electronic jeepney in a hotel, praised Filipino and American troops and veterans in an emphatic speech at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City and led a wreath-laying ceremony at the nearby American Cemetery, the resting place of thousands of fallen World War II soldiers.

Obama also visited Japan, South Korea and Malaysia in his weeklong trip. (Sunnex)

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