US to fund infrastructure projects in Palawan
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines—The United States will be scaling up its assistance to Palawan to finance major infrastructure projects, according to US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg.
“We want to help Palawan develop economically,” Goldberg told the Inquirer after meeting with provincial officials on Thursday, adding that this would be done mainly through an ongoing program being managed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
“We will help in infrastructure and all things that are needed to help develop economic opportunities here. This is apart from the security issue in the West Philippine Sea, which is also important, because so much is at stake in keeping the sea lanes open,” he said.
The United States said it is committed to increase the capacity of some frontline units operating in the West Philippine Sea, including the Philippine National Police Maritime Group that recently interdicted a Chinese fishing vessel in the disputed Ayungin Shoal.
Some of the projects, including the expansion of the US-supported Special Boat Unit (SBU) that interdicted last month a Chinese fishing vessel in the disputed Ayungin Shoal, would apply to Kalayaan Island, according to plans presented by local officials to the United States.
Goldberg said they would add more boats to the elite SBU unit of the PNP Maritime Group.
“We will provide additional patrol boats to SBU. Good things are going on and we want to see it continued,” he said, following an inspection of the SBU facility in Honda Bay, Puerto Princesa City.
Goldberg, however, stressed the United States has always promoted the peaceful resolution of issues in the disputed areas.
Goldberg also noted that despite sweeping budget cuts on US development assistance, they have been able to keep development funds to the Philippines “in a good level.”
Goldberg explained the US government, having signed the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and supported the Philippines’ bid to resolve the territorial dispute with China on the Spratlys issue within the framework of the United Nations, sees its increased development support to Palawan as an adjunct to its foreign policy stance.
Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez said the US assistance would help develop the province’s tourism industry by financing major infrastructure needs.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.