By Roy Mabasa
The Philippines and the United States signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that would lead to the establishment of a P520 million (US$10 million) state-of-the-art Regional Counter-terrorism Training Center in the country.
In a statement, the US Embassy in Manila said the multi-million peso counter-terrorism funds were secured by the US Department of State to “establish and jointly operate” the center which will be located on the grounds of the PNP Academy in Silang, Cavite.
Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Police General Oscar Albayalde and US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission John Law signed the MOU.
Once constructed, the center will provide counter-terrorism training for law enforcement units and personnel from the Philippines and regional partner nations.
The initiative to establish the modern facility was in response to a request from the PNP for the US to provide enhanced regional counter-terrorism training.
“The establishment of this center reflects the United States’ enduring commitment to support Philippine counterterrorism efforts and work together to address threats to peace and security in the region,” the embassy said.
The state-of-the-art center is part of the deepening bilateral counter-terrorism partnership between Manila and Washington.
During the 8th Bilateral Strategic Dialogue (BSD) last month, the US pledged to cooperate more in helping the Philippines curb the challenge of terrorism and violent extremism following the recent suicide bombing in Sulu where one of the suspects in the twin incident was found to be a Filipino.
In a joint statement released after the BSD meeting, the two sides agreed to engage in “improved information sharing, and port and aviation security” to prevent terrorist attacks within the Philippine confines, as well as the transit of foreign terrorist fighters within the country.
The Philippines and the United States also saw the need to detect and stop “money laundering and financing of terrorism.”
US Ambassador to Manila Sung Kim said the two sides will continue to look for ways to enhance counter-terrorism measures due to the dangers posed by extremist activities.
“This is why counter-terrorism cooperation has been a key element of our overall bilateral cooperation,” Kim told reporters at the conclusion of the meeting.