Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario (left) discusses strengthening PHL-US relations with US House Committee Chairman on Foreign Relations Representative Ed Royce.(Photo by By Embassy of the Philippines, Washington, DC)

Secretary del Rosario (left), Representative Royce (center), and Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia Jr. (right) meet on Capitol Hill. (By Embassy of the Philippines, Washington, DC)

Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Congressman Ed Royce will lead a U.S. Congressional Delegation (CODEL) to the Philippines on 28-30 January 2013. Chairman Royce will meet with President Benigno S. Aquino III, Speaker of the House Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert F. del Rosario, and other Philippine officials. He will also meet with the business community. High on the agenda are discussions on PH-US relations, defense and trade and investment cooperation, as well as regional security issues.

“We welcome the visit of Chairman Royce and the congressional delegation to the Philippines. Chairman Royce is committed to a strong alliance between the Philippines and the US, and he has been a great friend of the Filipino community in the U.S.,” DFA Secretary del Rosario stated.

Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. will join Philippine officials at meetings with the US CODEL. Ambassador Cuisia said “the inclusion by Congressman Royce of the Philippines in his first foreign trip as Chair of the House Committee reflects the value he accords to US friendship with the Philippines.” He added, “the Filipino people should welcome Congressman Royce and appreciate his affection for the Philippines.”

Congressman Royce, a Republican representing the 39th District of California and newly selected Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in the 113th US Congress, has been one of the strongest supporters in the US Congress of closer Philippines-US relations particularly with regard to security and economic cooperation. He is also supportive of President Aquino’s efforts in fighting corruption, strengthening the rule of law, and promoting human rights.

In his meeting with Secretary del Rosario and Ambassador Cuisia on Capitol Hill last 17 January 2013, Chairman Royce reiterated his support for the Philippines’ rules-based approach to the West Philippine Sea issue and the peaceful resolution of disputes within the framework of international law.

The US CODEL also includes Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-New York), Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-New York), Congressman Vern Buchanan (R-Florida), Congressman Matthew James “Matt” Salmon (R-Arizona), and Congressman Thomas Anthony “Tom” Marino (R-Pennsylvania).

This will be Chairman Royce’s first visit to the Philippines.