United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
Image source: digitalgroup.info

CHICAGO – United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton assured Filipino World War II veteran Celestino Almeda last May 23 in Washington, DC that “we have a team in Manila working” to help Philippines over the Chinese intrusions into the Philippine territorial sea.

Almeda was able to solicit support for the Philippines from Secretary Clinton after Clinton testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing for the U.S. ratification of the United Nations Convention of Law of Sea (UNCLOS) or the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea treaty.

An email from Eric Lachica of the American Coalition for Filipino Veterans Inc. based in Arlington, Virginia stated that when Mr. Almeda asked Secretary Clinton what the US is doing about Chinese intrusions into Philippine territorial sea, Clinton replied, “we have a team in Manila working on it.”

When Almeda followed up with another question, “diplomatically, the U.S. is not signatory to the United Nations Convention on Laws of the Sea, will the US support the Philippines, like in World War II, Clinton responded, “absolutely.”

Almeda was accompanied at the Capitol Hill by Lachica and Dr. Bambi Lorica of the U.S. Pinoys for Good Governance.

In asking the US Senate Foreign Relations committee Chair John Kerry to “please give advice and consent to this treaty (UNCLOS) before the end of this year,” Secretary Clinton said, “The time has come for the United States to have a seat at the table, to fully assert its role as a global leader, and accede to this important treaty. It is the bedrock legal instrument underpinning public order across the maritime domain. We are the only permanent member of the U.N. Security Council that is not a party to it. China, France, Russia, other countries, Germany, India, 161 countries have approved this treaty. We are the only industrialized country in the world that has not approved it.

“Let me take a few minutes and outline why I, too, believe that this Treaty is absolutely critical to U.S. national security, why it is time to move forward on this important issue, and why the longer we delay, the more we undermine our own national security interests.”

Aside from Secretary Clinton, the others, who spoke in favor of the ratification of UNCLOS treaty, were National Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.