Outgoing US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. personally said goodbye to President Aquino in Malacañang on Monday.
The President conferred the Order of Sikatuna with the rank of Grand Cross Silver Distinction on Thomas for his role in helping strengthen ties between the two nations, particularly on reaffirming the Philippines-US mutual defense treaty.
Seasoned diplomat Philip Godlberg is expected to replace Thomas, who has been assigned in the Philippines since 2010.
In July, US President Barack Obama named Goldberg as Thomas' successor.
Local political group Bagong Alyansa Makabayan (Bayan) earlier questioned Goldberg's appointment, alleging that he was expelled from Bolivia in 2008 for purportedly supporting groups opposing the administration of President Evo Morales.
Goldberg was US ambassador to Bolivia from 2006-2008. Amid escalating protests against Morales, the Bolivian president declared Goldberg "persona non grata" for allegedly "conspiring against democracy and seeking the division of Bolivia."
The US has denied the accusation, calling them "baseless."
Aside from being the US envoy to Bolivia, Goldberg also served as as Chief of Mission in Pristina, Kosovo from 2005 to 2006, and as Charge d’Affaires, and as Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Santiago, Chile from 2001 to 2004.
Goldberg has also been assistant secretary for intelligence and research at the State Department since 2010.
In August, the Philippine government approved Goldberg's appointment, with Foreign Affairs Sec. Albert del Rosario saying he thinks he "will be a very good ambassador."
READ MORE: Philippines approves new US envoy
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