Opportunity with President Gloria Arroyo of the Philippines
The South Lawn
The White House
May 19, 2003
9:11 A.M. EDT
PRESIDENT BUSH: Madam President, Attorney Arroyo, members of the Philippine
delegation, members of Congress, and distinguished guests: On behalf of the
American people, Laura and I welcome you to the United States.
This is the first state visit by the leader of an Asian country during
my administration. You honor the American people with your visit, because
our two nations share special ties of history and friendship and family.
And we share a commitment to the defense of democracy and the advance of
Just over a century ago, Americans and Filipinos worked side by side to
liberate the Philippines. Nearly half a century later, in a world war, our
soldiers fought and died together in places like Bataan and Corregidor. And
on this foundation of common sacrifice, America and the Philippines built
an alliance that remains strong, an alliance that is essential to the peace
of the Pacific.
In this new century, both our nations are threatened by terrorism, and we
are determined to fight that threat until it is defeated. Our diplomats,
and law enforcement and intelligence officers are working arm-in-arm to disrupt
terror plots, to cut off terrorist financing, and to bring the terrorists
President Arroyo has welcomed American troops to train and advise their
Philippine counterparts in Philippine-led antiterror operations. And she
has been a leader in building broader cooperation against terror throughout
the Asian Pacific region.
Madam President, for all you have done to make our world safer, America
thanks you. (Applause.)
Last week's terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia that killed innocent civilians
from the United States, the Philippines, and many other nations, remind us
that the war on terror continues. The world's free nations have the courage
and the determination to fight this war. And together, we will defeat the
forces of global terror.
President Arroyo also recognizes the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction.
And she spoke with strength and conviction of the need to disarm the Iraqi
dictator and to liberate the Iraqi people. Now the Philippines is helping
Iraq take its place among free nations by sending military police and medical
personnel. The President and I both recognize that a free and secure Iraq
is good for the Philippines, is good for America, and is good for the world.
We share great goals in the world. We are committed to opening markets
in Asia and around the world to bring more people into an expanding circle
of development and prosperity. And we are committed to adding the moral and
material resources of our countries to the global fight against poverty and
hunger and disease.
The partnership between our nations is sustained by the friendship between
our peoples. More than 2 million Americans trace their ancestry back to the
Philippines, and they enrich our national life. Many Filipino Americans serve
in our military, and I'm proud to recognize one of them today. Army Lieutenant
General Edward Soriano is one of the highest-ranking Filipino Americans in
the history of America's military. (Applause.) He brings pride to both our
countries, and we honor his service in the cause of freedom.
The Philippines was the first democracy in Asia and has a proud tradition
of democratic values, love of family and faith in God. President Arroyo,
you are carrying this tradition forward, and I'm proud to call you friend.
(Applause.) Today the First Lady and I are honored to welcome you and Attorney
Arroyo to America and to the White House. Mabuhay! (Applause.)
PRESIDENT ARROYO: Thank you very much. President Bush, Mrs. Bush, Vice President
Cheney, Mrs. Cheney, Secretary Powell, Mrs. Powell, Secretary Rumsfeld, General
Myers, officials of the U.S. government, excellencies of the diplomatic corps,
ladies and gentlemen. Thank you, President Bush, for inviting me to this
state visit. It only confirms that relations between our two countries are
deeper and warmer today than they have been in a very long time. (Applause.)
Today our two countries have a revitalized and maturing alliance, rooted
in shared history, shared values, a common interest in global peace and prosperity,
and a real commitment to combating terrorism and advancing freedom.
Our alliance abides strong as ever, even as the world today requires a new
perspective on political and economic security in Asia Pacific. This new
perspective must recognize that while Asia must take greater responsibility
for its own political and economic security, it must also recognize that
strong relations with the U.S. will contribute greatly to regional peace
and prosperity, stability and security, especially from terrorism. (Applause.)
Thus we, your friends, must find a way to support continued and active engagement
with the U.S. at a time when there are some forces in my region working against
such a relationship. Although wisdom counsels commitment, in the face of
terror the temptation to disengage is strong. We must fight that temptation,
because the answer to fear is confrontation. Indeed, we must close ranks
and stand firm against terrorist threats, however grave, however armed, and
from whatever quarter. (Applause.)
To spare themselves, some countries might prefer an accommodation with terrorism.
The Philippines has chosen to fight terrorism. (Applause.) We compensate
for such modest means as we command with an unshakable resolve to defeat
terrorism once and for all, and with faith in the justice of our cause and
our friendship with the United States.
Our war on terrorism has made significant gains, but the threat is far from
over. The war is not yet won. But it will be won, there can be no doubt.
How long and at what cost are the only things in doubt. As the terrorist
attack in Riyadh, which took both Filipino and American lives, shows, for
the Philippines, the new perspective on economic and political security in
Asia Pacific must take into account the over seven million of our men and
women who, in seeking a better life abroad, contribute greatly to the development
of economies around the world, not least that of the United States.
I am proud of these Filipino Americans. (Applause.) I am proud of the contributions
that Filipinos and Filipino Americans make to the American economy and society.
In a quiet, but equally substantive way, we can compare it to the contribution
made by Philippine World War II veterans to the defense of our common freedom
and security. (Applause.)
I also take pride in the robust economic and trade ties that bind the Philippines
and the United States. The Philippines is pursuing long-needed economic reforms.
The current and continuing reforms will strengthen the Philippine republic.
They will make easier Philippine and American economic cooperation, and they
will promote the cost of fighting world poverty.
I appreciate the help of President Bush in our work to alleviate poverty
and other socio-economic ills from which terrorism draws its strength. Like
the fear on which it feeds, terrorism can be contagious, and it will not
be contained unless we agree on a comprehensive approach for defeating it
in Southeast Asia.
And so, in looking forward to discussing that comprehensive approach, I
look forward to my talks with President Bush and his officials in this administration.
And I hope President Bush reciprocates this visit by accepting a state visit
to the Philippines towards the end of this year. Thank you. (Applause.)