US to pour in more projects in Basilan

ISABELA CITY, Basilan (MindaNews/24 March) – The United States Agency for International Development is pouring in more projects to this island-province, according to US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr.

The announcement came following a closed-door meeting with Gov. Jum Akbar at the provincial capitol during the ambassador’s visit here Tuesday afternoon.

Thomas said the humanitarian and development projects will be undertaken through USAID’s Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) program, aided by US troops stationed in province.

US soldiers in this city are stationed at Camp Luis Biel II and are training Filipino troops in anti-terrorism campaign and undertaking humanitarian projects.

Thomas said the American troops will be working in coordination with their Filipino counterparts who are also undertaking humanitarian projects aside from rendering security duty.

Lt. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer, Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) chief, said the humanitarian projects undertaken by Filipino soldiers are aimed at bringing development and progress and defeat lawlessness in the province.

Since 1997, assistance from the US government has helped construct or upgrade over 52 infrastructure projects such as roads, boat landings, bridges, port and harvest facilities, and water systems across this province.

In partnership with the private sector, the US government has provided solar-powered home and community lighting facilities for 32 remote barangays and has helped organize and strengthen village organizations that will manage and sustain the solar-powered community facilities.

The US Department of Agriculture provided funds to help increase food security and incomes of farmers by introducing integrated farming models based on combination of rice, corn, vegetables, coconuts, cacao, other tree crops and animals.

Other projects poured in this province include health and education-related programs.

Akbar said she is thankful to the American government as well as the US and Filipinos troops for the continuous implementation of projects across the province.

Akbar said she was very happy that Thomas personally visited Basilan to see for himself the benefits brought about by the projects poured in by the US government. (MindaNews)