Press and Photo Releases 2012
US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. travels to Samar, attends opening ceremony for Pacific Partnership, visits Millenium Challenge Corporation Compact Sites
June 25, 2012
In a visit to Samar, U.S. Ambassador Harry K. Thomas, Jr. helped launch Pacific Partnership 2012 – an annual international mission that delivers humanitarian assistance – in Calbayog and then joined a team of local volunteers in applying plaster and paint to two school buildings under construction in Santa Margarita.
“This mission is about nations working together to achieve a common goal,” Ambassador Thomas said after participating in a ceremony June 19 at Northwest Samar State University to kick off Pacific Partnership. Drawing participants and support from eight nations and nongovernmental organizations in addition to the U.S. Navy and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Pacific Partnership provides training to increase the partner nations’ military and civilian capacity to respond to national disasters. It also is helping the people of Samar through a visit of the U.S. Naval Ship Mercy, a floating hospital, and medical, dental, and veterinary projects. In addition, U.S. Navy Seabees and their AFP engineering counterparts are building schools and health clinics, among other activities, until July 1.
As Ambassador Thomas said regarding the participants, “Due to their planning and training, they are building resiliency and the capacity to respond to potential disasters so that their assistance will be an effective force multiplier during times of crises.” The Philippine government had invited Pacific Partnership 2012 to bring its assistance to Samar.
In Santa Margarita, Ambassador Thomas joined Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Juliano-Soliman, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and community volunteers in visits to schools in Barangay Inoraguiao and Napuro 2. At the Barangay Inoraguiao elementary school, the Ambassador helped lay the foundation of a new two-room school building. In Napuro 2, he helped paint the walls of a new one-room school building. The buildings are being funded through a $120 million grant by the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to Kalahi-CIDSS, one of the Philippine government’s flagship anti-poverty and community empowerment programs. MCC is an independent U.S. foreign aid agency that is helping lead the fight against global poverty.
Speaking after a community gathering in Barangay Napuro 1, Ambassador Thomas said, “I am proud that Santa Margarita has shown that it is capable of addressing the needs of the community and of implementing projects with local leadership, local expertise, and local sweat.” He expressed his hope that the Kalahi-CIDSS model – with its goal of having municipalities take almost complete responsibility for projects from inception to completion – would yield benefits that are “inclusive and comprehensive.”
The grant to Kalahi-CIDSS is expected to cover 164 poor municipalities and complete more than 3,000 locally driven development projects. The funding is part of the $434 million MCC Compact managed by the Millennium Challenge Account – Philippines. In addition to supporting the Kalahi-CIDSS project, the MCC is helping to rehabilitate a 224-kilometer road segment on Samar Island and to reform and modernize the Philippine revenue collection system.