US sees 'strong, productive' ties with next PH president

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 27)— The United States expects to forge strong ties with the next Philippine leadership, regardless of who wins in the May elections, a US official said Thursday.

"I think regardless of who is elected in May, we look forward to having a strong and productive relationship with the new president," US Charges d'Affaires Heather Variava said in a virtual briefing.

Variava also said the US will continue to support the Philippines' rights and sovereignty in the region.

She reiterated Washington's call for Beijing to honor the 2016 arbitral ruling on the South China Sea case — one that invalidated the East Asian nation's sweeping claims in the contested waters.

"Philippine sovereignty over its territorial waters in the South China Sea is a non-negotiable part of the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific," Variava said.

Filipinos will be choosing their next leaders on May 9, with 10 currently in the running for the presidency.

Those vying for the highest post are Ernie Abella, Leody de Guzman, Isko Moreno Domagoso, Norberto Gonzales, Ping Lacson, Faisal Mangondato, Bongbong Marcos, Jose Montemayor, Jr., Manny Pacquiao, and Leni Robredo.