U.S. to increase assistance to Philippines next year: Romulo

18:18, December 17, 2009      

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Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo said Thursday the U.S. Congress has increased Washington's development and security assistance to the Philippines to 135.1 million U.S. dollars next year.

Romulo said this amount is higher than the 118.7 million U.S. dollars requested by the Obama administration. It also represents an increase by 13 percent from the 2009 fiscal year's appropriated budget of 119.7 million U.S. dollars.

"The U.S. Congress has always played a key role in ensuring that the alliance between the Philippines and the United States remains strong and is supportive of peace and development efforts in the Philippines, particularly in Mindanao," Romulo said, adding that the significant increase in U.S. assistance is "an indication of its confidence and the value it places on its partnership with the Philippines."

Two-thirds of U.S. assistance is devoted to Mindanao for livelihood, basic services, and reintegration of ex-combatants, he said.

Romulo said the increase is part of the Fiscal Year 2010 Omnibus Appropriations Bill which was approved by the House of Representatives on Dec. 8 and the U.S. Senate on Dec. 13. The legislation will now go to U.S. President Barack Obama for his signature.

In terms of U.S. Development Assistance, the Philippines is second only to Indonesia globally, but Manila receives the highest level of International Military Education and Training (IMET) funds in East Asia and the Pacific and the 12th biggest share of U.S. Foreign Military Financing (FMF) in the world.

However, with regard to foreign military financing (FMF), the U.S. Congress has conditioned the release of 3 million U.S. dollars, out of the increased amount of 33 million U.S. dollars, with progress in Philippine efforts to address human rights issues.

Source: Xinhua
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