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10/11/2011: PHL Ambassador Meets with Hawaii’s Top Officials

Admiral Robert Willard (4th from left) welcomes Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. (3rd from left) to the headquarters of the Pacific Command in Honolulu.

Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. (left) with Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie.

Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. (left) with Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle.

Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. (center) with Major General Darryll Wong (left) and Victor Gustafson, Vice Director of Civil Defense.

10 November 2011, Washington DC. Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. arrived in Honolulu, Hawaii yesterday as part of the official delegation of President Benigno S. Aquino III for the APEC 2011 Leaders Week.

Ambassador Cuisia took advantage of the occasion by also calling on Hawaii’s leading public officials, including Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle and Governor Neil Abercrombie.  He also met with Admiral Robert Willard, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, and Major General Darryll Wong, Director of the State Civil Defense.

In his meeting with the islands’ top elected officials, Ambassador Cuisia cited the long and deep bilateral relations between the Philippines and Hawaii.  He noted that Filipinos comprise the biggest ethnic group in the state.  He also encouraged increased economic activity between the Philippines and Hawaii and welcomed the trade mission being planned by Hawaiian companies to selected Philippine cities this February.

Governor Abercrombie remarked “there is no stronger relationship with an ethnic community than with Filipinos.”  He added that crucial to the success of public officials in Hawaii are respect for and communication with Filipinos.  “Our ties go generations back and the cord has never been cut,” he said.  Mayor Carlisle noted the extensive contribution of Filipino businesses to local commerce.  He expressed his wish of visiting the Philippines soon.

The Ambassador also had a fruitful exchange with Admiral Willard, the supreme military authority for the various branches of the U.S. armed forces whose area of jurisdiction covers over fifty percent of the world’s surface area and nearly sixty percent of the world’s population.  Among the issues discussed were maritime security, bilateral defense cooperation, and regional developments.

Ambassador Cuisia ended the day’s string of meetings at the State Civil Defense, the office tasked to prepare for and respond to disasters and emergencies in the state of Hawaii.  Currently led by Major General Darryll Wong, the agency plays a crucial role in saving lives and protecting people.  Its emergency alert and tiered response system ensures continuity of government, the ability to do conduct business, and the rehabilitation of schools’ infrastructure in the aftermath of calamities.  The Ambassador called for increased exchanges and capacity-building activities with the Philippine agencies responsible for national disaster risk reduction and management.

President Aquino is leading a lean delegation of officials to this year’s APEC gathering.  The regional group hopes to achieve concrete outcomes in three specific priority areas: strengthening regional economic integration and expanding trade; promoting green growth; and expanding regulatory cooperation and advancing regulatory convergence.  END