By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

COURTESY CALL. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. meets with United States Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson at Malacañan Palace in Manila on Tuesday (Feb. 13, 2024). During the meeting, Marcos expressed his gratitude to the US government for extending aid to Mindanao calamity victims. (Photo courtesy of the Presidential Communications Office)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has thanked the United States (US) government for extending emergency assistance to communities affected by flooding and landslides in Mindanao, Malacañang said Wednesday.

In a statement, Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Cheloy Garafil said Marcos relayed his expression of gratitude when US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson paid him a visit at Malacañan Palace in Manila on Tuesday.

“Carlson told President Marcos that Washington is pleased to bring two C-130s from Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), although it is not the cheapest or the easiest way to deliver foreign assistance,” Garafil said.

During her courtesy call on Marcos at Malacañan, Carlson said the US government has also extended USD1.25 million in emergency support, in addition to the aid delivered by two US C-130s.

Marcos cited the importance of Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites for disaster relief and response and encouraged Carlson to make full use of those facilities.

“There’s so much that can be done more efficiently through the mechanism that exists… but sometimes you just need an extra push and it is also a good demonstration of how good the alliance can deliver,” Carlson told Marcos, as quoted by the PCO.

Carlson assured Marcos that teams from INDOPACOM, US Agency for International Development, and Joint US Military Assistance Group are ready to provide assistance to the Philippines, if need be.

She also lauded the Department of Social Welfare and Development in coordinating the relief supplies for typhoon and landslide victims in Mindanao.

Marcos earlier ordered the release of around PHP265 million to augment the relief assistance for the calamity victims in the region.

The financial assistance was on top of the emergency fund transfer provided by the government to the affected families in the region.

Marcos also visited Davao City on Feb. 7 in the wake of flooding and landslides triggered by the shear line and the trough of low pressure area.

Deepening alliance

Marcos and Carlson also discussed the issues concerning the West Philippine Sea (WPS), based on a statement posted on state-run Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM).

Carlson commended the Philippines’ firm stance on upholding its sovereign rights in the WPS.

Marcos, on the other hand, stressed the importance of open communication and the need to develop and strengthen collaboration in other areas to ease tensions over territorial disputes.

“Meeting for the first time this year, the Ambassador also discusse[d] with the President other areas of cooperation and collaboration that would further deepen the Philippine-US alliance,” the statement read. (PNA)