THE United States government is poised to give a $70 million cash aid to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spread over two years for infrastructure improvements, US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson bared on Wednesday.
The American envoy made the disclosure during the Mangrove Forum hosted by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), saying the financial assistance is mostly meant for the proposed expansion of the the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
The EDCA, Carlson pointed out, is another way for Washington D.C. “to operationalize the Mutual Defense Treaty” between the two countries.
“These improvements are designed to enhance cooperative defense capacities and support Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Response activities, in ways that best meet the needs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the alliance,” she said.
“As stated in President (Joe) Biden’s recently released National Security Strategy, we seek a free, open, prosperous, and secure world. Our alliance with the Philippines is central to this effort,” she added.
Carlson clarified that the US government will not dictate to the Philippine military on how the funds would be spent and will leave it to the Department of National Defense (DND) to decide, but they hope the AFP would prioritize the people’s security, water security, and strengthening of border patrols, among others.
Apart from security and defense, the United States, the envoy said, is also working side-by-side with the Philippines in addressing non-traditional issues such as “food security, cybersecurity, and sustainable energy resources” — issues that are “key to the livelihood and wellbeing” of Americans and Filipinos.
“The United States partners with the Philippines with the clear-eyed recognition that these challenges make up our shared present. Our response to these challenges — how we cooperate, and how we plan our next steps — will determine our future together,” Carlson said.
The amount is separate from the $100 million the US has made available in foreign military financing to the Philippines. This, according to Carlson, is to help ramp up the AFP’s defense capabilities and military modernization.
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