By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora
MANILA: The United States is providing an additional PHP298 million or approximately USD5.9 million to its total pandemic assistance to the Philippines.
“This latest assistance builds on our long-standing relationships with local government units across the Philippines, and represents our continued commitment to our Filipino friends, partners, and allies in this time of crisis,” US Ambassador to Manila Sung Kim said.
The funding brings to more than PHP768 million or around USD15.2 million Washington’s overall aid to Manila’s coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) response.
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) will partner with 18 local governments in some of the Philippines’ hardest-hit areas to promote effective crisis management and implement response plans.
“Funding will support local governments to rapidly disburse emergency funding and supplies, and strengthen the capacity of local crisis response centers to disseminate accurate and timely crisis response information, manage quarantine measures, set up public handwashing facilities, ensure food supply, and support local business recovery,” the embassy said in a statement.
To assist with small and micro-enterprise recovery, USAID will also facilitate access to credit and provide grants and skills training for heavily affected sectors and communities, said the embassy.
The new assistance includes PHP44 million or approximately USD875,000 from the US Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration for the International Committee of the Red Cross to support the pandemic response in the Philippines that includes increasing stocks of essential medical supplies and expanding hospital capacity, preventing the spread of disease in detention centers, and supporting resilience for vulnerable people and communities.
According to the embassy, the US has so far provided more than PHP228 billion or USD4.5 billion in development assistance to the Philippines over the past 20 years, including over PHP29 billion or USD582 million in health assistance.