• US aid to go to PH law enforcement, court reforms

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    The United States is providing $17.68 million in assistance to help the Philippines enhance its law-enforcement capabilities and support justice-sector reforms.

    In a statement, Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Cuisia Jr. said the funding will also help Manila strengthen its capacity to address extra-judicial killings and other human-rights cases.

    The assistance will be provided under Amendment 3 to the 2011 Letter of Agreement on Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement that was signed by Cuisia and William Brownfield, assistant State secretary for international narcotics and law enforcement, at the State department last week.

    “As early as 2003, the Philippines and the US have been working together to strengthen the institutional capability in the area of narcotics control and law enforcement,” Cuisia said.

    He noted that the cooperation between the two countries expanded in the past decade to include combating trafficking in persons, child sex tourism and alleged summary executions.

    “Both our countries perceive these challenges as common threats and we welcome the opportunity to work with the US government to eliminate these threats that scourge our people,” Cuisia said.

    He explained that the funds will be used primarily to support the Global Security Contingency Fund Program (GSFP) to prepare the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Coast Guard in assuming an “increased respon-sibility for combating terrorism and maintaining internal peace and security in the lands and waters of southern Philippines (Mindanao).”

    Cuisia said the funds will also be used to support the Southeast Asia Maritime Initiative project to assist further development of operational and institutional capabilities of the Philippine Coast Guard and PNP Maritime Group.

    He added that the agreement will also cover funding for the Law Enforcement Support Project “that seeks to help develop and insti-tutionalize professional skills training within the PNP and other law enforcement entities as well as the Southeast Asia Regional Maritime Law Enforcement Development Pro- ject that seeks to strengthen regio- nal coordination and law enforce-ment activities concerning maritime issues.”

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