Friday, 6 July 2007

Palace thanks U.S. Congress for $30-M foreign military funding to RP

Original report at Gov.Ph News

Malacanang expressed today its thanks to both houses of the US Congress and Executive Branch for appropriating a $30-million foreign military funding to the Philippines to fight terrorism and bring lasting peace and progress in Mindanao.

Press Secretary Ignacio R. Bunye said both Houses of the US Congress have approved and even increased by almost three-fold to $30 million the military funding for the Philippines from the Executive Department proposal of only $11 million.

In a statement, Bunye said the increased amount was appropriated under the 2008 Foreign Military Funding bill by both Houses of the US Congress even after several Philippine groups "have tried to stop the US funding for reasons of political expediency."

"We are thankful to our friends in both Houses of the US Congress and in the Executive Branch for their faith in the government of the Philippines as demonstrated in the strong military funding currently appropriated to the Philippines in the 2008 Foreign Military Funding bill," Bunye said.

"We share mutual determination to bring peace and solidarity in Mindanao and to strengthen US-Philippines security relations," he added.

The Malacanang official said US funding has been very helpful to the fight against terrorism and in bringing in basic infrastructure, education, and healthcare in crucial areas in Mindanao.

"This is funding that has allowed our partnership with the United States to break new ground in making our country and our region safer from the threat of terror. This is funding that has saved lives and that has brought renewed hopes of lasting peace and meaningful progress to thousands," Bunye added.

He said the US Congress also approved an additional $2 million subject to the confirmation of the State Department that the Philippines is implementing the recommendations of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, "which we have largely done;" and that the Philippine military is not engaging in acts of intimidation or violence against members of legal, civic and religious organizations who advocate human rights.

"We see this provision as a sincere desire to help and further encourage the Philippines to address the issue of politically-motivated killings. We assure the members of the US Congress that the Philippine government acknowledges their concern and see this as a sincere desire to help us address the issue," Bunye said.

Bunye added that the US Senate Committee on Appropriations also increased to $30 million from $26 million the Economic Support Fund for the Philippines and urged the Executive Branch to request for more once there is a peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Incidentally, stakeholders in the peace process that include the lumads and MILF leaders would thresh out and address issues on insurgency, criminality and terrorism during the Mindanao Peace and Security Summit in Cagayan de Oro City next week.

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