US Swears in New Ambassador to Typhoon-Weary Philippines

Nov 21, 2013 10:27am

The United States has a new ambassador to the Philippines, after Secretary of State John Kerry swore in Philip Goldberg today at State Department ceremony.

When Super Typhoon Haiyan hit this month, the United States began its aid effort without an ambassador in Manila: Ambassador Harry Thomas ended his post Oct. 16 after serving there for more than three years. Deputy Chief of Mission Brian L. Goldbeck had assumed the duties as America’s top diplomat in the Philippines.

Nominated on July 31 as Thomas’s replacement, Goldberg, 57, was confirmed by the Senate Nov. 14, a week after Haiyan made landfall.

“We were able to move this up with the Senate. I’m appreciative to the Senate for moving on this, because we want to have our ambassador on the ground in the Philippines to deal with the challenges of emergency assistance to the Philippines,” Kerry said at this morning’s ceremony, joking about the early hour (7:30 a.m.) and Goldberg’s accelerated confirmation and departure.

“As we struggle to respond to this human disaster, we’re proud that we’re sending to the Philippines the right person for the job,” Kerry said. “He’s accelerated his departure and can’t get there soon enough to help make a difference.”

The United States has continued to fly aid into Manila, distributing it to the areas hit hardest by Haiyan. Between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of Defense, the United States has thus far committed $47 million to typhoon relief in the Philippines, according to a USAID official.

“There is no doubt they will bounce back,” Goldberg said of Filipino citizens hit by the storm, pledging to work with the government there to “do more in terms of humanitarian relief preparedness.”

Goldberg had served as assistant secretary for the Bureau of Intelligence and Research since February 2010. Goldberg formerly served as chief of mission in Kosovo and as U.S. ambassador to Bolivia from 2006 to 2008.

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