MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III gives Order of Sikatuna award with the rank of Grand Cross, Silver Distinction (Datu, Katangiang Pilak) Monday, October 14, to outgoing United States Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr.
Even if Thomas is expected to end his term this year, the country maintained a good relationship with the United States.
In a press conference, Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said that the country remains positive that the Philippine-US relation will remain firm under incoming US Ambassador Philip Goldberg.
“We’re pretty confident that the good relations will remain even with the changing of the representative here,” Valte said.
She stated that Goldberg’s part to the country will be critical, noticing the planned increase in rotational presence of the US troops here.
“It is important that we have one point-person that we have open communication lines with in case there are issues that need to be addressed,” Valte added.
Outgoing US Ambassador
It can be recalled that President Barack Obama assigned Henry Thomas Jr. replacing Kristie Kenney, the first woman ambassador of the Philippines, in 2009.
Thomas is the first African-American to take responsibility as the US Ambassador of the Philippines. He is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service.
Thomas was also recognized for advancing high-level dialogues and consultations between the Philippines and the US, facilitating the creation of mechanisms such as the Philippines-United States of America Bilateral Strategic Dialogue and the 2+2 Ministerial Consultations.
He was also cited for his outstanding contribution to the Philippine democracy and development, especially in taking the lead on the establishment and implementation of the programs under the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the Partnership for Growth.
PNoy also recognized his steadfast support to the country in times of calamities, especially on the significant assistance from the US to address the disasters caused by Typhoons Pablo and Sendong.
Thomas was also cited for pursuing activities that nurtured friendship, mutual appreciation and understanding between Filipinos and Americans.
Incoming US Ambassador
A source allegedly revealed that Obama has nominated former ambassador to Bolivia, Philip Goldberg, to replace Thomas.
Goldberg served as the US ambassador to Bolivia from 2006 to 2008, even though he was ejected from the said country for allegedly leading anti-government actions that threatened the leadership of President Evo Morales.
Order of Sikatuna
The Order of Sikatuna was generated last 1953 and is awarded to individuals who have rendered exceptional and meritorious service to the Philippines.
It is also granted to diplomats, officials and nationals of foreign states who have rendered noticeable services in fostering, developing, and strengthening relations between their country and the Philippines or upon personnel of the Philippine Government Agency.
Araceli A. Reas
ABCom, Leyte Normal University