US to Focus on Peace, Prosperity in Mindanao — Envoy

Jun. 24, 2006

By Cheryll D. Fiel

Amb. Kenney in Davao, June 22. ( photo by Barry Ohaylan)DAVAO CITY — “Peace and prosperity” are the focus of the US government’s efforts in Mindanao, US ambassador Kristie A. Kenney said during her visit to Davao City this week.

“We continue to work, Kenney replied to a question regarding the US government’s financial and military assistance to the Philippines during a brief meeting with the media at the Marco Polo Hotel. I think our real focus at this point is on peace and prosperity.”

She emphasized that, on the security side, the US government is not working only with the armed forces and the police. The US is doing this, she said, “in a variety of ways,” such as through development, agricultural, education and health assistance programs.

“We’re working on things like trafficking in persons, drug smuggling and all the things that don’t make our citizens safe and peaceful,” she said.

Kenney said she was hoping that the US government will sign in a couple of months an agricultural-assistance agreement with the Philippines worth $20 million.

Asked whether the US government has helped finance the recent 1 billion peso fund to run after the communist New People’s Army (NPA), Kenny said the US government’s role in counterterrorism in the Philippines is “on a broader level.”

“The United States is a partner of the Philippines, as you know, in the global terror and we have declared the NPA along with the European Union as a terrorist organization. Each country obviously carries out their specific tactics within their country,” she said.

“We’re not involved in specific tactics, campaigns, she added. We are involved in the overall training as to how we can make our security forces as effective as possible and how we can protect our citizens. So our role is broad-based.

She cited the US government’s latest contribution to the country, the so-called Millenium Challenge Account to fight corruption, where about 21 million dollars is set to be provided over two years.

Kenney (right) with officials of the Visayan Forum, an anti-trafficiking NGO, led by its president, Ma. Cecilia Flores-Oebanda. ( photo by Barry Ohaylan)Kenney was in Davao on June 22 to check on the several US-sponsored programs here. She also attended the launching and ceremonial signing of the US Government Anti-Trafficking in Persons Grant to the Visayan Forum Foundation Inc., an NGO that helps trafficked Filipinos. The US government provided a $179,000 grant to help put up a “halfway house,” a temporary shelter for victims of human trafficking.

She also met with local government and business leaders, including Vice-Mayor Luis Bonguyan, House Majority Leader Prospero Nograles and members of the Bishops-Ulama Conference and Mindanao Business Conference at the Marco Polo Hotel.

Kenney also visited the Ateneo de Davao University where she talked with students and had a tour of the US Embassy-sponsored American Studies Resource Center. The “Virtual Consulate Davao,” an internet resource center where information about US consular services can be accessed by its citizens, is also located inside Ateneo.

She also met with officials from the Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM), A USAid-funded project that helps development formerly war-torn areas in Mindanao. (Cheryll D. Fiel/

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