The United States and the Philippines have had a tempestuous relationship, and it doesn’t help that President Rodrigo Duterte has often lambasted the former (remember when he terminated the Visiting Forces Agreement after the U.S. canceled one of his allies’ visa?).
But that seems all water under the bridge now, because the U.S. has just pledged to donate PHP298 million (US$5.8 million) to the Philippines’ campaign against COVID-19, the American embassy announced today in a statement.
The new tranche of the incoming donation will bring the total amount of U.S. pandemic assistance to the Philippines to PHP768 million (US$15 million). The amount will be disbursed through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which will work with 18 local government units that have been hardest hit by the pandemic in the Philippines.
“Funding will support [these] 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.
“Other activities funded through this new assistance tranche will provide supply chain analytics and promote a regulatory environment that facilitates logistics and transportation for food, medical products, and other essential goods. To assist with small and micro-enterprise recovery, USAID will facilitate access to credit and provide grants and skills training to heavily affected sectors and communities,” the embassy added.
The Philippines was colonized by the U.S. from 1898 to 1946. Even after the Philippines gained its independence, the U.S. kept its presence in the country by maintaining military bases in Angeles City and Olongapo, but both closed down in the early 1990s.
Duterte has never been a big fan of America and said earlier this year that the Philippines can survive without their aid. However, he is considered a close ally of China and has even thanked President Xi Jinping in his public speeches.