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Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto R. Yasay, Jr., held a town hall meeting with the Filipino – American community on 12 November 2016 in Honolulu.

The town hall meeting was an opportunity for community leaders and members of the media to ask questions about the recent developments in the Philippines. The town hall meeting was organized by the Philippine Consulate General, Honolulu and moderated by Mr. Allan Alvarez, radio talk show host of Honolulu Radio KPHI.

In attendance were Senator Donna Mercado Kim and Vice Speaker John Mizuno, state representative Romeo Cachola, Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho, media personalities and leaders of the Filipino – American community.

Secretary Yasay said that the Philippines is pursuing an independent foreign policy because it is provided for in the Philippine Constitution. He quoted Section 7 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, which states: “The state shall pursue an independent foreign policy. In its relations with other states, the paramount consideration shall be national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest, and the right to self-determination.”

He also replied to questions on the anti-drugs war of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, saying that the Philippine government is serious about fighting the drug war since it affects many sectors of Philippine society, that the government does not and will not allow extra-judicial killings, and that the police follow strict rules on engagement in their police operations.

Secretary Yasay allayed concerns of U.S. citizens about visa requirements. He said that there is no change in the current practice allowing U.S. citizens to travel to the Philippines for a period of 30 days or less without visa.

The Secretary said that the Philippines looks forward to a stronger relationship with the United States following the election of Mr. Donald Trump to the presidency. (END).