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Philippine Consul General Julius D. Torres  paid separate courtesy calls on new US legislators from Hawaii – Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) – on 21 February 2013, at the Senator’s Office at the US Federal Building and at the Philippine Consulate General, respectively.

Courtesy Call on Senator Brian Schatz

L-R: Senator Brian Schatz, Consul General Julius Torres, and Ms. Kim Yoshimodo,
Director for External Affairs, Office of Sen. Schatz

During his brief courtesy call on Sen. Schatz, Consul General Torres informed the Senator of the highlights of the successful 23rd Trade Mission to the Philippines on 1-11 February 2013 of the Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii (FCCH) which Consul General Torres, together with Hawaii Lieutenant Governor Shan Tsutsui, co-headed. Sen. Schatz, former Lieutenant Governor, was supposed to lead the trade mission, but turned over the task to his successor upon his appointment in the US Senate in December 2012.

Consul General Torres also enlisted the support and assistance of Sen. Schatz on the passage of the Save Our Industries (SAVE) Act in the US Senate.

Sen. Schatz serves on the US Senate Committees on Energy and Natural Resources; Commerce, Science and Transportation; and Indian Affairs.

Courtesy Call on Represenative Tulsi Gabbard

L-R: Vice Consul Joyleen E. Santos, Consul General Torres, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard,
Capt. Nathan Miyake, Military Affairs Liaison of the Office of Rep. Gabbard and
Col. Restituto Padilla, PH Liaison to the US PACOM.

Prior to Rep. Gabbard’s election to the US House of Representatives (HOR), Rep. Gabbard served in the Honolulu City Council and in the Hawaii HOR She is currently a Military Police Company Commander with the Hawaii Army National Guard, and has served on two deployments to the Middle Eart. She also informed Consul General Torres that she attended a girls-only missionary academy in Silang, Cavite for two years.

Rep. Gabbard serves on the US HOR COmmittee on Homeland Security and its Subcommittee on Borders and Maritime Security ; and on the  Committee on Foreign Affairs and its Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific Affairs.

During their meeting Rep. Gabbard conveyed that issues that will benefit Filipinos in Hawaii, such as immigration reform, family reunification, and veterans affairs, are among her key priorities during her term in the US HOR.

Consul General Torres briefed Rep. Gabbard about the developments on the Philippine Government’s move to pursue arbitration proceedings over the disputes in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) through an Arbitral Tribunal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS), and stressed that the Philippines is committed to Arbitration, a friendly, peaceful and durable form of dispute settlement that should be welcomed by all. They also discussed the recent grounding of the US Navy minesweeper USS Guardian on Tubbataha Reef in the Philippines, noting that salvage operations will resume once weather conditions become better.

Both Sen. Schatz and Rep. Gabbard gave their assurances that they will work more closely with the Philippine Government on issues that will mutually benefit the Philippines and Hawaii, and its people. (END).