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3 Reasons Why Obama is Visiting the Philippines in October 2013

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US President Barack Obama, who has repeatedly declined the invitation of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to visit the Philippines during her term, has accepted the invitation of President Benigno Aquino III to be in Manila this time.

There are three main reasons why the popular US president accepted the invitation.

First, the Manila visit is a part of his APEC-ASEAN itinerary.  President Obama is attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Bali, Indonesia on October 6, 2013.  This will be followed by the US-ASEAN Summit and East Asia Summit (EAS) in Brunei. He will also meet with Prime Minister Najib Razak in Malaysia.  Then, he will visit the Philippines on October 11 and 12 upon the invitation of President Aquino, according to presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda.

Manila will be President Obama’s last stop in the ASEAN swing. It will be his first visit to the Philippines.

Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose L. Cuisia Jr. provided the second reason for the visit.  He said the visit "underscores the importance President Obama places on the enduring alliance between the United States and the Philippines as well as his regard for President Aquino's leadership." 

“The visit to Manila is an opportunity for President Obama to personally witness the economic transformation in the Philippines that was engendered by President Aquino's good governance agenda,” Ambassador Cuisia said.

The US intelligence does not exactly have a good perception of former Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's leadership, because of the many anomalous transactions entered by her administration, including with several Chinese companes.

President Arroyo's visit to Washington was not reciprocated by President Obama.

The trip will be the eighth visit of an American president to the Philippines and the first in a decade.  Former US President George W. Bush visited the Philippines in 2003 while former US President Bill Clinton came here in 1996.

The third reason for the visit may be the most important.  The government said the visit seeks to strengthen the ties between Washington and Manila.

“President Obama will meet President Aquino to discuss ways to further strengthen the enduring Philippine-US alliance, including the expansion of our security, economic and people-to-people ties,” Mr. Lacierda said.

The Philippines and the US are holding talks to expand American military presence in the country, amid the growing threat from China in the West Philippine Sea.

Both countries tackle the Framework Agreement on Increased Rotational Presence and Enhanced Defense Cooperation, which will allow more US troops, aircraft and ships to temporarily pass through the Philippines.

Militant groups suspect that President Obama will make an important announcement during his visit to Manila.

Ambassador Cuisia also provided hints, saying “we are optimistic that in their discussions, President Aquino and President Obama will identify new opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation in the areas of defense and security, trade and investment and broader people to people ties.” 

Now, we know why President Obama is visiting the Philippines in October.

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