Celso, US ambassador renew friendship, ties PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 28 June 2011 16:23

For the first time since he officially assumed as the American Ambassador to the Philippines in April 2010, Harry Thomas Jr. set foot in City Hall Friday, June 24 to renew friendship and ties between Filipinos and Americans that began over a century ago.

The courtesy visit to City Hall was a personal request from the ambassador himself who wanted to devote some of his time while in Zamboanga to be with Mayor Celso Lobregat and the other officials of the city government. From 11:30am the private meeting stretched up to past 2pm during which the two officials shared views about a lot of issues over lunch and capped the gathering with the exchange of tokens.

Mayor Lobregat thanked the US envoy for including in his itinerary the courtesy visit to City Hall despite the tight schedule. “It is a great honor and pleasure to receive you and it is truly special that we have this luncheon-meeting take place in this historic City Hall.”

The century old City Hall, according to Lobregat, is a testament to the long bond between the US and the Philippines more specifically between the United States and the City of Zamboanga. Built in 1905 and completed in 1907 and designed by Yale University architect William Parsons, this City Hall is one of the greatest legacies of this strong relationship, he said.
In a short presentation prior to lunch, the mayor briefed the US official about the city’s political, social and security situation. “I know these are crucial and interesting issues and we are thankful that this opportunity offers you the chance to see first hand the real situation of our city and its prospects.”

The mayor likewise cited the numerous projects and programs related to health, education, peace and security and other aspects that city government and the US government jointly undertake in the city. At the same time, he mentioned about the city’s firm stand on the peace process and the continuing support of the city of Zamboanga to the conduct of the RP-US joint military exercises.
“We reiterate our gratitude to the US government for the many projects covering various sectors—health and sanitation, education, children welfare and peace and security including our joint undertakings on anti-human trafficking and other programs”, the mayor stressed.

Ambassador Thomas expressed admiration to the efforts of the city government under the leadership of Mayor Lobregat and vowed to continue the friendship and ties between the US and the city of Zamboanga.

He said the US government, through its various funding institutions will continue to work together with the Philippine government on issues that concern the Filipinos.
Joining the mayor and the ambassador during the private meeting at City Hall were USAID Mission Director Gloria Steele, Mindanao Development Authority chairperson Luwalhati Antonino; US Air Attache  Col. Richard Matton; US embassy control officer Dean Chang; and US Embassy official Jake Wohlman among others. From the city government side, those present were Councilor Rodolfo Lim, Council representative to the Local School Board; Councilor Nonong Guingona- Council representative to the Zambo Ecozone; Councilor Abdurahman Nuno- barangay sector representative in the City Council; Councilor Jaime Cabato-Council representative to the City Peace and Order Council; City Police OIC director Col. Edwin de Ocampo; City Health Officer Rodelin Agbulos; City Social Welfare and Development Officer Francisco Barredo and City Prosecutor Ricardo Cabaron. — Sheila Covarrubias