United States Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim and President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday discussed Washington and Manila’s extensive bilateral partnership and cooperation on counterterrorism, child protection and piracy.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Kim met Duterte in Davao City.
Abella said Kim told Duterte that he is “quite proud” of the cooperation between the US and the Philippines’ intelligence forces “in terms of intelligence and information sharing, training and equipment support.”
“Sung Kim also assured Duterte that the US understands the security concerns of the Philippines and that the US is ready to provide more military equipment, assistance and training,” the Palace official said.
Duterte believes the bilateral ties between US and the Philippines “remain strong and there is readiness to discuss more matters of mutual interest with the US.”
The relations between the two countries soured when Duterte launched tirades against former US President Barack Obama and Kim’s predecessor, Philip Goldberg. Washington has been critical of Duterte’s bloody drug war.
At a luncheon meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce Mindanao, Kim conveyed the US government’s wholehearted support to the Philippine economy, as well as its commitment to development in Mindanao.
The US has pledged more than P3.5 billion for dozens of projects in Mindanao to be implemented in the next few years, including the roll-on, roll-off, or RORO, a nautical highway.
On April 30, the route will connect the cities of Davao and General Santos to Bitung in the Sulawesi Island of Indonesia. This accomplishment will help US and Philippine businesses operating in Mindanao increase their exports at great savings.
The ambassador said US clients generate an estimated 40,000 well-paying BPO jobs in Mindanao.
Cargill, a US agricultural corporation, exports P7.5 billion of coconut oil every year, much of which comes from Mindanao, Kim said. Cargill has trained more than 1,000 coconut farmers since 2011 on improving agricultural practices. As a result, 300 small farmers from the region have been certified to produce the world’s first Rainforest Alliance certified copra, raising their incomes by 15 percent.
WITH A REPORT FROM JAIME R. PILAPIL