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07/06/2012: Overflow Crowd of Filipinos and Americans Grace Launch of US-PH Society

07 June 2012, Washington DC. Amid an overflow crowd of guests composed of corporate executives, high-level United States government officials, and leaders of the Filipino American community, the U.S.-Philippines Society was launched today in this city’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel with President Benigno S. Aquino III serving as the guest of honor.

Registered as a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C., the newly-formed Society was established to build on the rich and longstanding historical ties between the two nations and help bring that unique relationship fully into the 21st century at a junction when U.S. policy interests are increasingly focused on the Asia Pacific region.  It is a private sector initiative designed to encourage economic ties, promote trade and investment, support bilateral strategic and political goals, strengthen cultural, technological, tourism, and people-to-people linkages, especially educational and academic exchanges.

In his remarks, President Aquino said the creation of the Society is long overdue, considering the deep-rooted ties between the Philippines and the U.S.  He cited the gains that have been made in his administration resulting from his good governance agenda, including record highs in the stock market and several credit rating upgrades.  He also recounted that the problem of judicial inefficiency and susceptibility to outside pressures remains a serious concern, and how cleaning up the judiciary, starting from the very top, sends a clear message that no one is above the law.

Also during the program, Senator Richard G. Lugar, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, was conferred the Order of Lakandula, Rank of Supremo (Grand Collar) by President Aquino for his “significant contributions to the enhancement of Philippines-US Alliance and Friendship.” The commendation also read, “Senator Lugar has been a steadfast friend of the Filipino people and has consistently supported the development of a robust democracy and has promoted economic progress in the Philippines.”

In an article written today by Roberto R. Romulo in the Philippine Star entitled “How to win friends and influence people,” the former Foreign Secretary said a mechanism is needed to maintain a sustained outreach program in the United States, specifically designed to build up the bilateral Philippines-American partnership.”  He added that such a platform should be “dedicated to ramping up discussions in the US capital on Philippine business conditions, on Philippine-US economic linkages, on mutual Philippine-American interests in various fields and on broader aspects of Philippine society in ways that would be attractive to target American audiences.”  Mr. Romulo attributed “the dogged determination of many as well as the assistance and moral support of our tireless Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. in Washington” for the Society’s eventual establishment.

The Society's board is co-chaired by Ambassador John D. Negroponte, former U.S. ambassador to the Philippines, and Mr. Manuel V. Pangilinan, Chairman of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company. Honorary Chairs are Mr. Washington Z. Sycip and Mr. Maurice "Hank" Greenberg.  The other Founding Board Members are Mr. Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala (Ayala Corp.), Ambassador Roberto R. Romulo (Chartis Philippines), Ambassador Thomas C. Hubbard (McLarty Associates), Mr. Robert A. McDonald (Procter & Gamble),  Ms. Melody Meyer (Chevron), Atty. Cirilo P. Noel (SGV), Mr. Enrique K. Razon, Jr. (ICTSI), Mr. Aurelio R. Montinola III (BPI), Mr. Dennis Wright (Peregrine), Mr. Jay Collins (Citigroup) and Ms. Teresita Sy-Coson (SM Investments). Board Members also include Mr. Ramon del Rosario, Jr. (PHINMA), Ms. Doris Magsaysay-Ho (Magsaysay Shipping), Mr. Henry Howard (US Education Finance Group), Mr. Diosdado Banatao (Tallwood Venture Capital), Ms. Emily Beizer (JP Morgan Chase), and Ms. Loida Nicolas Lewis (TLC Beatrice).  The President of the Society is Ambassador John F. Maisto and its Executive Director is Mr. Hank Hendrickson.  (END)