Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. visited the Province of Bohol on September 5 to celebrate the US Government’s strong partnership with the “Heart of the Philippines.” Together with Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto and US Embassy Manila’s United States Agency for International Development (Usaid) Mission Director Gloria Steele, Ambassador Thomas also opened an exhibit that highlighted Usaid initiatives in Bohol in the past two decades.
“We consider Bohol as one of the success stories of our development assistance. We are proud to be part of Bohol’s achievements as an emerging growth center and we look forward to further advancing this productive partnership as we work towards our shared goal of achieving broad-based and inclusive growth, “Ambassador Thomas said.
The exhibit highlighted past and current projects implemented in the province, including those supporting good governance, economic growth, environmental sustainability, health, and other social services.
The role of Usaid in the transformation of Bohol dates back to 1991 with projects such as the Local Development Assistance Program that helped establish the Bohol Alliance of Non- Government Organizations. The program supported the Philippine Government’s decentralization reform through local revenue enhancement, environmental protection, and strengthening of local government units and non-governmental organization capabilities to accelerate local development and investment. The Governance and Local Democracy (GOLD) project in 1996 played a catalytic and pivotal role in Bohol’s development and environmental management resources. Under the GOLD project, Bohol crafted the Bohol Environment Code (BEC) of 1998, the first environment code by any local government in the country.
Among current projects implemented by Usaid in Bohol is the Advancing Philippine Competitiveness Project (Compete), a project under the Partnership for Growth (PFG). The PFG, a White House initiative, is a collaboration between the United States and the Philippines Government focused on accelerating and sustaining broad-based and inclusive economic growth. Usaid also provides assistance to Bohol through the Private Sector Mobilization for Family Health Phase 2 Project which aims to increase private sector participation in the delivery of family planning, maternal and child health services. Usaid’s current environmental project, the Coastal Climate Change Adaption Project to strengthen the Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) which is implemented in partnership with Rare, builds community, ecological, and social resilience against climate change.
Mission Director Steele said, “the strong and productive partnership that we have built with the people of Bohol is instrumental as we move towards meeting our vision of putting the Philippines on an accelerated growth trajectory to achieve broad-based growth that benefits all Filipinos.”
During the event, Ambassador Thomas also highlighted the strong partnership that Bohol has developed with the US Peace Corps, whose volunteers have been working to build a brighter future for the young people of Tagbilaran.