THE United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is continuing with its assistance programs with the Philippine government this year.
This is despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s previous pronouncements that the Philippines could survive without any assistance from the U.S.
“We continue to have programs with them and no one has asked us to leave or to discontinue. We continue to work together,” Gloria Steele, acting assistant administrator for USAID’s Bureau for Asia, said, as quoted by Inquirer.
Steele noted that the USAID projects in the Philippines were “not aid per se” but rather, “a partnership.”
“We have talked about continuing the partnership for growth but I believe they now call it, ‘Partnership for Growth with Equity,’” Steele remarked.
According to her, the Duterte administration sought to pursue USAID programs related to health, education, and promotion of resiliency amid both man-made and natural disasters.
“I think on the implementation level, they have asked us to continue because there is unfinished business. There is work to be done and, like I said, our whole goal was to make this a sustainable program so that Filipinos could carry this on by themselves,” she added.
Steele also said that the USAID will continue its assistance in Mindanao this year, which will address resilience issues and growth.
Drug rehabilitation has yet to be added to the agency’s list of projects in the Philippines. However, Washington remains open to such programs.
“That was an area that was brought up. Right now we don’t have resources for that. It’s just a discussion,” Steele explained.
She went on to say, “They (Philippine government) just said that’s an area they want to talk to us about but we don’t have resources. I didn’t say we’re not supporting. I said we have discussions going on.”
Last year, Duterte dared Washington to pull out its assistance from the country, following the criticisms from the United States — under former President Barack Obama — against the Philippines’ intensified campaign against illegal drugs.
Duterte then insisted that the Philippines could survive on its own without receiving any aid from the U.S. government.
“I do not expect the human rights (advocates), I do not expect (former U.S. President Barack) Obama, I do not expect the EU to understand me. Do not understand me and if you think it’s high time for you guys to withdraw your assistance, go ahead. We will not beg for it,” Duterte said during a speech sometime in October. (Dana Sioson / AJPress)