By Francis Wakefield
ABOARD USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT — United States Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Y. Kim on Friday night said the presence of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) in Manila Bay sends a very clear message to everyone in the region that the US-Philippines alliance is unbreakable and will remain so indefinitely.
In a speech he delivered at the reception aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt which was attended by Philippine government officials, politicians, members of the business community, the military, media and the academe, Kim said the friendship between the two great allies has never been stronger.
He added that he is honored to join the Commander of the Carrier Strike Group 9 Rear Admiral Stephen K. Koehler in welcoming all the guests to USS Theodore Roosevelt also known as the “Big Stick.”
“They have opened their home to us tonight and what a home it is. The namesake of this amazing ship is of course the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt. Teddy Roosevelt, as many of you know, was a soldier, a visionary president, a nobel prize winner, and famous for creating the famous saying, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Well over a thousand feet long and weighing in at well over hundred thousand tons, sticks don’t come any bigger than the Theodore Roosevelt,” Kim said.
“But I might take exception to the first part of the Teddy Roosevelt saying about speaking softly. I think there are times when we should speak loudly and clearly. And the presence of the Theodore Roosevelt here in Manila Bay sends a very clear message to everyone in the region, especially to our friends in the Philippines because our commitment to the US-Philippines alliance is unbreakable and will remain so indefinitely.”
“Our friendship has never been stronger and we have been and remain an Indo-Pacific nation. And our commitment to this region and its well-being is enduring,” he added.
Kim, in his speech, said the US commitment was clear when the U.S. came to the assistance of the brave men and women of the Armed Forces of the Philippines as they defeated the terrorists behind the siege in Marawi.
He added that their commitment is clear when every year, they welcome tens of thousands of Filipinos to the United States, to study, to visit loved ones, and sometimes to shop.
“And we appreciate the incredible hospitality the Philippines shows our fellow Americans when they visit this beautiful nation,” Kim said.
“Our commitment is also clear on the number of US companies investing in the Philippines’ thriving economy, providing jobs to talented Filipino workers, and also when we welcome Filipino products to US markets,” he said.
Kim also said that the timing of Theodore Roosevelt’s visit is quite fitting as the Philippines just a few days ago observed the Day of Valor.
“This day of course is a somber reminder that our alliance and indeed both of our nations have endured much larger history. Yet we emerge from these trials stronger, both as individual nations and as friends, partners, and allies,” Kim said.
“The Day of Valor invites us to remember and honor the past. But the presence of this amazing carrier in Manila Bay reassures us that together we can have a secure and prosperous future,” he added.
Kim also said that Theodore Roosevelt is a symbol of their commitment to protecting the enduring values that have generated so much prosperity in the amazing region.
“Values and principles like freedom of navigation, freedom of commerce, freedom from fear and corruption. So this ship is well named, Theodore Roosevelt was restless, wandering and an adventurous soul. And wherever he went, he was (mystically)… American and consistently represented the very best our country has to offer,” Kim said.
“Theodore Roosevelt set a very high standard for this magnificent ship and its equally magnificent crew. So please get to know them tonight. You will discover that they are truly worthy of the name,” he added.
Among the VIPs seen present during the reception included Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes, Magdalo Representative Garry C. Alejano, Oriental Mindoro 2nd District Rep. Reynaldo Umali, Don Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Chairman and CEO of Ayala Corp. and former AFP spokesman Major General Restituto Padilla.
Kim said he was both thrilled and honored that USS Theodore Roosevelt is visiting the Philippines.
The ship, he said, has about 400 Filipino-Americans aboard.
“I think it’s a clear sign, clear reflection, clear demonstration of our commitment to the Indo-Pacific Region, commitment to the US-Philippines alliance, and also our commitment to promoting and protecting important values, principles and rights like freedom of navigation, freedom of flight, and freedom of commerce. So I’m delighted and grateful the Admiral and his outstanding team are visiting us in the Philippines,” he said.
For his part, Admiral Koehler said the presence of USS Theodore Roosevelt only means that they are ready to protect and challenge any threats to freedoms amidst China’s increasing activities in the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea.
The U.S. Embassy said the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17, and the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) arrived in Manila on Wednesday for a scheduled port visit.
Koehler said they are excited to visit the Philippines and spend time in this part of the Indo-Pacific.
“The Philippines has long been a part of U.S. Navy history, and we look forward to continuing that valued relationship and partnership,” Koehler said.
During the port visit, Sailors and Marines will participate in cultural exchanges, community relations events, and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR)-sponsored tours to enhance cultural understanding and cooperation between the two countries.