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18 January 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Philippines is hoping that the visit to Manila next
week of Sen. Marco Rubio will further convince Washington to commit to a long-term involvement in the rehabilitation of areas devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.

Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. expressed this hope after meeting on Friday with Senator Rubio, who is the ranking member of the Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Ambassador Cuisia said the Florida lawmaker will be received by President Aquino when he visits Manila on Wednesday as part of a week-long trip that would also take him to Japan and Korea.

Senator Rubio will also meet with Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. Del Rosario and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin. He is also expected to visit Tacloban.

His visit, which will focus on defense and economic cooperation and regional issues, also intends to find out how US assistance related to Typhoon Haiyan is being utilized.

“We are hoping that Senator Rubio will be one of the advocates for a long-term US commitment in the reconstruction of Haiyan devastated communities in the Philippines,” Ambassador Cuisia said.

“A huge challenge remains and the Philippines is preparing seriously for the reconstruction of affected communities, Ambassador Cuisia said, adding that Manila has recently unveiled a $8.2 billion reconstruction roadmap.

“The Philippines is therefore turning again to the international community, especially the US, in seeking official development assistance to support reconstruction efforts,” he said.

During their meeting, Ambassador Cuisia told Senator Rubio “the Philippines welcomes the pivot to Asia policy and I hope the US Administration will continue to strengthen the implementation of this policy, with greater focus in Southeast Asia.”

“The Philippines would also like to see an expansion of the pivot policy in terms of our economic relationship,” he said.

In a press release, Senator Rubio said Asia is vitally important to the future of America’s security and economic well-being, adding that “America must make sure that our rhetoric about increasing our presence in Asia does not come at the expense of enduring alliances and challenges in other parts of the world.”

“The fact is that the United States has long been a Pacific power and it is vital that we maintain our robust military and diplomatic presence in the region while adapting to new realities,” he said. ###