Bangkok (The Nation/ANN) - The United States last year provided nearly US$193 million (about 8.26 billion pesos) in development aid to the Philippines, according to the US Department of State.
In a report posted on the website of the US Embassy in Manila, the Washington-based agency noted that the US government provided $192.9 million in grant funds to Manila in 2011.
The funds were intended to "foster inclusive economic growth and alleviate poverty; strengthen democratic institutions and governance; and counter transnational terrorism and insurgency in Mindanao," said the state department.
"To achieve inclusive economic growth and alleviate poverty, the US government is supporting a broad range of socioeconomic efforts, including activities to promote fiscal and trade policy reforms, infrastructure development, business climate improvement, enterprise development, natural resources management, improved health and education services, and increased access to clean and affordable energy, water and sanitation services," it explained.
According to the agency, the United States also gives humanitarian aid to victims of calamities and displaced persons in conflict-affected areas.
The report noted that in September 2010, the US government-run Millennium Challenge Corporation signed a $434-million compact with the Philippines.
The five-year deal "provides funding for three major projects: road construction and rehabilitation, community development and revenue administration."
"In November 2011, the United States and the Philippines jointly launched the Partnership for Growth, a focused development effort which seeks to address the most significant constraints to economic growth in the Philippines and stimulate enhanced, inclusive economic expansion in line with other high-performing emerging economies," said the state department.
Under its Country Assistance Strategy for the Philippines for the period 2009 to 2013, Washington's overall strategic vision is a "more prosperous, well-governed and stable democracy that is able to meet the needs of its people, especially the poor," said a US Agency for International Development (USAid) report.
The program's priority goals include "accelerating growth through improved competitiveness; strengthening governance, rule of law and the fight against corruption; investing in people to reduce poverty; and promoting a peaceful and secure Philippines."
Late last year, the USAid announced that it was focusing assistance on rebellion-torn Mindanao.
Gloria Steele, the Filipino-American head of the agency in Manila, said Mindanao was "still USAid's top priority because that's where the need is greatest," pointing to a region where literacy and maternal and child mortality rates are highest.
Steele told the Inquirer the agency was "working in partnership with the administration of President Aquino" and "making sure our programs will support the president's priority projects."
The USAid has over 30 projects in southern Philippines, including the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Between 1996 and 2010, the agency provided over $500 million to develop basic infrastructure in Mindanao, such as ports, roads and bridges, and to assist rural banks in providing loans and deposit services to microenterprises.
The USAid claimed the incidence of violence had been reduced by at least 40 per cent in areas supported by its development activities.