President Benigno Aquino 3rd and Ambassador Philip Goldberg led the commencement exercises for the 148 scholars supported by the US Embassy Manila’s United States Agency for International Development at Malacañan Palace.
Also present were Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento, Department of Interior and Local Government, representatives from the Development Academy of the Philippines, headed by President Antonio Kalaw, and Senior Vice President Gloria Mercado.
The ceremony marked the end of the 14-month academic program given by the Development Academy of the Philippines. This multifaceted course allows students to progress between vocational training and academic lessons, and focuses on public management, local governance, development planning, and disaster risk reduction and management.
The program is part of the US government’s assistance to build the planning and disaster preparedness capacity of local governments in Typhoon Yolanda-affected areas. The scholars, most of whom are employed as municipal and provincial planners, earned the title Master in Public Management, Major in Local Governance and Development.
In his commencement address, President Aquino said, “You can make a difference in the lives of Filipinos. Armed with your new knowledge, we must continue to build back better, so we can avoid similar tragedies down the line.”
Ambassador Goldberg acknowledged the hard work of the graduates in taking steps to improve the social development planning and effective disaster management in their communities. “Collectively, you are building resilience throughout the region, and this resilience contributes to a more stable Philippines,” the Ambassador said.
To date, the US government has provided approximately $143 million to help the Philippines respond to, and recover from, the devastating effects of Typhoon Yolanda.