Include whole Mindanao in aid program, Emano asks US ambassador

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/29 June) —“On my bended knees if needed,” City Mayor Vicente Y. Emano begged visiting US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas, Jr. to also include the rest of the island in the Cities Development Initiative (CDI) of the US Agency for International Development.

Emano made the appeal during the signing today of a Memorandum of Understanding to launch the program here.

In his message, the mayor thanked Thomas and USAID for including the city as one of its CDI partners as it is “certainly a much needed help.” The other two participating cities are Batangas and Iloilo.

“Assistance should also be given in all of Mindanao. I beg on my knees if needed because unless Mindanao is developed, this country will remain as it is,” he said.

The CDI is a cross-cutting development approach that works strategically in selected cities in the country. “This initiative is built on the premise that economic growth and job creation are closely linked to urban development, where cities act as engines of economic growth,” USAID’s fact sheet read in part.

But Thomas told local reporters that “over 60 percent of USAID’s funding assistance goes to Mindanao.”

In three events here where he delivered speeches, Thomas reaffirmed the US’ commitment as the Philippines’ foremost ally and partner in peace building.

Last Thursday, Thomas graced the awarding ceremonies of eight companies for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) and two food laboratories for ISO 17025 certifications.

In the morning of his two-day visit, Thomas led in the turnover of educational supplies, computers and furnishing to Bulua National High School, and in the afternoon in the launching of the CDI.

On the three occasions, Thomas reiterated the US government’s commitment to peace building in the region.

“This assistance demonstrates and reaffirms our commitment for peace building. Our commitment continues,” he said.

He also said that the fact that the Philippines is “one of only four countries in the world where the US government has extended assistance, shows our commitment.” (Cong Corrales/MindaNews)