Arroyo: Philippines can be 'friends' with both China, U.S.

MANILA, Philippines – Former Philippine president and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said "there is no conflict" with the Philippines maintaining diplomatic relations with both China and the United States.

The Pampanga 2nd District congresswoman said this in her keynote speech during the inauguration of the new building of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) in Clark, Pampanga, on Tuesday, November 27. Her office sent reporters a copy of her speech on Wednesday, November 28. 

Present during the event were United States Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim and Hungarian Ambassador to the Philippines József Bencze. 

"We want Ambassador Sung to be here so that the American investors will be more high profile, so that the people will remember that America is a sheer friend of the Philippines. We are friends with China but being friends with China doesn't mean that we are not friends with the United States. There is no conflict in friendship between two important friends," said Arroyo.  

In a chance interview on the same day, the Speaker added that being friends with both China and the US is "very important" for the Philippines.

"We can be friends with both. They are both very important to the world and to the region, and our friendship with them is very important to us, and their friendship with each other is also very important to us," said Arroyo. 

DIPLOMACY. Arroyo stands beside US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, BCDA President Vince Dizon, and Hungarian Ambassador to the Philippines Ju00f3zsef Bencze.

DIPLOMACY. Arroyo stands beside US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, BCDA President Vince Dizon, and Hungarian Ambassador to the Philippines Ju00f3zsef Bencze.

She also said she is "very proud" of American investments in Clark.

"And we are very happy that Ambassador Sung is here together with our Hungarian ambassador.... I am very proud of the American investments here. I am very proud that Texas Instruments is here, a billion-dollar investment with $3 billion in revenue. Also Michael Kors and many others," said Arroyo.

She then invited Kim and Bencze to bring more investments to the Philippines.

The Speaker made these statements days after she led a courtesy call on Chinese President Xi Jinping during the latter's two-day state visit to the Philippines.

In their meeting, Arroyo heaped praises on China and recalled her presidency – which saw the Philippines cozying up to China and signing a controversial joint exploration agreement for the South China Sea.

The Philippines signed a total of 29 agreements with China during Xi's visit, including a memorandum of understanding on oil and gas development in the West Philippine Sea. 

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr said "forces" in the Philippine government, not President Rodrigo Duterte, pushed for the oil and gas deal with China. – Rappler.com 

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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