The United States is continuing its development assistance to Mindanao despite the declaration of martial law on the island since Tuesday, a US Embassy official said over the weekend.
US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Michael Klecheski told The Manila Times that the United States Agency for International Development (USAid) personnel, both foreign and local, are properly secured whenever they go around the island, including Marawi City, capitral of Lanao del Sur province.
“I have been in Mindanao at least twice this month and there is nothing to worry about. Our people will continue delivering their services to uplift the condition of our brothers and sisters,” Klecheski said at the sidelines of an Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries (Ecofish) event held in Makati City.
He said he has no scheduled visit to Mindanao for the rest of the month and in June.
Klecheski added that the development programs are in full swing, including the training of some 30 English teachers and setting up of cold storages.
Ecofish is a USAid flagship program covering eight marine key biodiversity areas: Calamianes group of islands in Palawan, Danajon Bank in northeastern Mindanao, Lingayen Gulf in Pangasinan, Ticao Pass-San Bernardino-Lagonoy Gulf in Bicol, South Negros Island, Sulu archipelago, Surigao del Sur and Norte and Verde Island Passage in Mindoro and Batangas.
Since 2012, it has been carrying out spatial planning, boat licensing (1.8 million so far) and marine protected area network establishment.
The biodiversity conservation has improved management of 800,000 hectares of marine waters in 40 towns.
Various local governments have been working with USAid and Tetra Tech, a private firm, to enable small fishermen to benefit in the long run with sustained and better quality harvest and equitable share of resources.
The partnership empowers local communities to rebuild fish stocks and conserve the ecosystem.