US Ambassador Thomas leads Fusion Cell opening rites

ZAMBOANGA CITY(MindaNews/21 March) – United States Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. led the inauguration today of the $36,768 Fusion Cell project which he called a symbol of the decades-old alliance between his country and the Philippines.

The Fusion Cell will serve as a space for Philippine security forces and U.S. troops to plan and implement programs for Mindanao, such as free medical, dental, veterinary, and engineering projects.

Thomas emphasized that the construction of the Fusion Cell doesn’t mean US troops will permanently stay in the country especially in Mindanao.

But the ambassador said US forces will continue to stay in Mindanao “as long as the Philippine government and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) would like us to be here.”

The project was funded by the US government through the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) and is located at Camp Basilio Navarro that houses the Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) headquarters.

“And in this case bringing end to violence in the southern Philippines, through this (center) we will be able to share information on threats to peace and security. We will also develop a greater understanding of the concerns of the local populace,” Thomas said.

Thomas was joined by Wesmincom chief Lt. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer and JSOTF-P commander Captain Robert Gusentine.

Thomas said they will continue to find ways to work with the AFP and the Philippine government to help the people in Mindanao to reject violence.

“I understand that this is the emphasis of the AFP’s internal peace and security plan, a wise approach that takes a long-term view and recognize that security is base to a more and just prevailing over one enemy battle,” he added.

Fusion Cell includes the refurbishing of a 600-sq ft structure that had become unusable, and construction of a 400-sq ft concrete reinforced addition complete with a lavatory and temperature control.

The project started on October 20, 2010. (MindaNews)