Ambassador Philip Goldberg assumes post ‘with mixed emotions’

Video by U.S.State Department

By Maricar CP Hampton

Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research Philip Goldberg was sworn in November 21 as the new U.S. ambassador to the Philippines, after the Senate fast-tracked his confirmation so he could help facilitate U.S. aid to typhoon Haiyan survivors.

Secretary of State John Kerry who swore in Goldberg during a ceremony at the State Department said, “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.”

Goldberg, 57, is expected to depart for Manila next week with “mixed emotions.”

“I’m excited and honored to be going to the Philippines, a country with which we share so much history,” he said during the swearing in ceremony. “At the same time, it’s hard to think of the suffering of so many people in the Philippines in recent weeks and all they’ve endured without a touch of sadness and without being moved.”

Nominated on July 31 and confirmed by the Senate on November14, a week after Haiyan struck the Philippines, Goldberg, pledged to help the Philippines “make a full recovery and advance in the next stage of the country’s development.”

“I look forward to helping our two countries do more in terms of humanitarian relief preparedness,” he said.

To date the U.S. has delivered about 1,780 tons of food, with about 13,000 military forces helping distribute the goods to the stricken areas without a formal ambassador in Manila.

Chief of Mission Brian L. Goldbeck had assumed the duties of Ambassador Harry Thomas after he ended his tour of duty on October 16 serving for more than three years in the Philippines.

“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.

The official death toll is reported at 3,976 with 1,602 people missing. The United Nations estimates up to 4 million people have been displaced; 350,000 are said to be in evacuation centers.

Goldberg during his speech, honored the Filipinos, calling them a “warm, but also tough and resilient” people. “There should be no doubt that they will bounce back. I have no doubt.”

Goldberg is a former ambassador to Bolivia, and most recently served as chief of the State Department’s intelligence bureau.

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