THE top United States diplomat to Manila yesterday underscored the importance of further strengthening the Philippines-US alliance to be able to face future challenges, an alliance that 75 years ago led to liberating the nearly 4,000 internees housed at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Internment Camp.
This, Ambassador Sung Kim emphasized in a speech when he graced the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Manila and Santo Tomas Internment Camp. Also present were Defense Undersecretary Ricardo David Jr., UST Secretary General Rev. Fr. Jesus Miranda Jr., O.P.
The UST played a critical role during World War II being the largest internment camp in the Philippines during 1942-1945.
For three years, UST shouldered an incredible burden as the largest internment camp in the Philippines housing nearly 4,000 allied civilians including as many as 3,000 Americans, Kim said.
“The people interned here endured unbelievable hardships and yet in the midst of despair and tragedy, emerged stories of hope, compassion, courage, and friendship. Countless brave Filipinos who could not stand to see internees starving provided them with food, currency and correspondents. They gave people here a fighting chance, helping them survive until they could eventually be rescued.”
Kim explained the Filipinos’ remarkable acts of kindness helped to forge an enduring partnership that had defined the US-Philippines relationship to this day.
This, he stressed “reminds us that when Filipinos and Americans join together, we can overcome even the most difficult times. Today and many other sacrifices ensure that the alliance of our nations forged during WWII will protect, unite and inspire future generations of Filipinos and Americans.”
“The alliance remains as important today as it was 75 years ago as we work together for humanitarian disasters, counter terrorism and keeping the pacific region free and open for all nations.”
He cited the profound importance of the US-Philippines alliance became evident when the ISIS-inpired terrorists took over Mindanao.
“Our alliance did not skip a beat. In the Philippines’ moment of acute need, we stood steadfast alongside our partners. Our enduring military alliance enables us to provide viable advice, assistance and equipment in support of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to liberate Mindanao from the control of terrorists,” the Ambassador said.
Kim added the adaptability and importance of the US-Philippines alliance is also evident when they confront natural disaster.
“As the history of UST and more contemporary examples of Marawi, typhoon Yolanda, Taal volcano eruption demonstrates, when we need each other the most Filipinos and Americans are there for each other,” he said.
Kim said “as we remember and pay tribute to the people who fought side by side for freedom, the best way to honor them is by taking the US-Philippines relationship forward by seizing opportunities to strengthen our partnership and taking future challenges together as friends, partners and allies.”
The Ambassador expressed belief in the continued promise of the US-Philippines relationship saying “I am confident that we will accomplish even more together in years and decades to come.”