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Speech at the felicitation of Senator Jovi Salonga by the
Philippine Liberal Party and the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats
On the occasion of the inauguration of
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III
By Prof Rajiva Wijesinha
Chairman of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats
Let me begin by thanking the Philippine Liberal Party, and so many of its Presidents gathered here, for sharing such a memorable occasion with your fellow members of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats. Today is really a great day for us external delegates because, while all of you members of the Philippine Liberal Party have had the pleasure of knowing and listening to Senator Salonga previously, some of us knew him before only by reputation. When I was young, many years ago, we had certain icons of Asian Democracy and, amongst these, all the names that we heard of during the struggle against the Marcos regime have always reverberated in my mind.
So it is an extreme pleasure today to have been able to meet one of the shining stars of that time. And then, a few years later, following the replacement of Marcos by President Corazon Aquino, we also had the situation where, after the restoration of democracy, many of us thrilled to the struggle for national liberation which still continued. At that time the name of Senator Salonga became synonymous with the decision of the Philippines to ask the Americans very politely to leave the bases they had owned here previously. And let me say that I think those steps were very important, because what I might call the more civilized nature of western engagement with the third world springs from decisions like that. You remember the support which was highlighted today that America gave to regimes like that of President Marcos in the old days when democratic values did not matter in comparison with partisan support, In such a context we had to say that we wanted more from what was supposed to be an alliance, we need to work with you, but we need to work with you on our terms, not on yours.