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Obama cites Philippines in State of the Union address

American President Barack Obama mentioned the Philippines in his yearly State of the Union address before the US Congress on Wednesday (Manila time).

In the hour-long speech, Obama mentioned the US’ aid in the disaster last November when Supertyphoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) scourged several Visayan areas and claimed thousands of lives.

“We will continue to focus on the Asia-Pacific, where we support our allies, shape a future of greater security and prosperity, and extend a hand to those devastated by disaster – as we did in the Philippines, when our Marines and civilians rushed to aid those battered by a typhoon, and were greeted with words like, ‘We will never forget your kindness’ and ‘God bless America!” he said.

The mammoth relief effort that the US armed forces led in the Philippines was among the Obama administration’s accomplishments in 2013 that the president cited.

Obama was also referring to his administration’s strategic pivot to Asia launched in his first term as president, regrouping the US military in order to deploy 60 percent of its forces to the Pacific and away from the Middle East.

The US chief executive, moreover, called on Democrats and Republicans in the House “to fix [the] broken immigration system” and pass legislation this year.

Obama said it is time to heed the calls to change immigration laws from business and labor leaders, religious leaders and law enforcement officials.

The US Senate passed broad legislation last year that enhances border security and provides a path to citizenship for about 11 immigrants in the US illegally. Among the proposals under consideration by House Republican leaders is one that would give legal status to immigrants in the U.S. illegally but not citizenship.

The White House has said Obama wants the legislation to lead to citizenship. But Obama did not make that demand in his address.

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