United States Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas made his farewell call on President Benigno Aquino 3rd in Malacanang on Monday.
During the call, Thomas received the Order of Sikatuna with the rank of Grand Cross, Silver Distinction (Datu, Katangiang Pilak), “in recognition of his invaluable contribution to deepening the relations between the Philippines and the United States.”
The President thanked Thomas for his “advocacy for a stronger, more robust Philippines-United States defense alliance, playing a key role in the signing of the 2011 Manila Declaration that reaffirmed the Philippines-United States of America Mutual Defense Treaty.”
Thomas was also credited for advancing high-level dialogues and consultations between the Philippines and the US, facilitating the creation of mechanisms such as the Philippines-US Bilateral Strategic Dialogue and the 2+2 Ministerial Consultations.
He was also cited for taking the lead in implementing the programs under the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the Partnership for Growth.
Present at the ceremony were Deputy Chief of Mission for the US Embassy Brian Goldbeck, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, DFA Assistant Secretary Carlos Sorreta, senior defense official to the Philippines Col. Rocky Carter and 3rd Secretary and Vice Consul Luke Meinzen.
US President Barack Obama named Thomas as ambassador to the Philippines in 2009, replacing Kristie Kenney, the first woman ambassador to the country.
Obama has nominated former ambassador to Bolivia Philip Goldberg to replace Thomas.
CATHERINE S. VALENTE