Relations between the United States and the Philippines remain strong, said former President Fidel Ramos of the Republic of the Philippines at Heritage on Wednesday. He referred to the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the two countries, saying the people of the Philippines consider the U.S. a “strong ally,” “valuable partner,” and a part of the “extended Filipino family.”
Ramos stressed the importance of the MDT during a time when China currently claims the South China Sea. The MDT calls on the U.S. to join the Philippines against “common dangers,” such as an attack on Philippine territory or property. China, a “fast-growing comprehensive power,” wants to threaten America’s security guarantees, Ramos stated. Though tension progresses on the South China Sea, such an issue does not necessarily lead to war, he said. The U.S. must remain vigilant and maintain a power balance in relation to China.
Ramos later turned his focus to the “real enemies” of mankind, naming issues such as climate change, poverty, hunger, disease, privation, lack of water, and “persistence of ignorance.” Instead of fighting against one another, countries should join forces and fight together. Rather than arguing, he said, the goal should be “enduring peace and sustainable development,” because it is our duty to create a “better future for mankind.” Ramos said that the greatest hope is in young people to fight for human rights and the rule of law.
Sharing with the audience a piece of Filipino culture, he stated that the noblest way for a soldier to die is in combat by an enemy bullet. However, Ramos said there is another death that is more admirable for him: death from living to an old age, paying taxes responsibly, raising a family, and remaining a good citizen. This goal, together with striving for peace and development, appears to be something that Ramos has a good chance in achieving—to be remembered as a man fighting for peace.