By Roy Mabasa
The United States is providing an additional Php298 million ($5.9 million) to help the Philippines in its fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), bringing the total amount of US government’s pandemic assistance to the Philippines to more than Php768 million ($15.2 million).
In a statement, the US Embassy in Manila said the US Agency for International Development (USAID) will partner with 18 local governments in some of the hardest-hit areas to promote effective crisis management and implement response plans.
The same funding will support local governments to rapidly disburse emergency funding and supplies, and strengthen the capacity of local crisis response centers to disseminate accurate and timely crisis response information, manage quarantine measures, set up public hand washing facilities, ensure food supply, and support local business recovery.
“This latest assistance builds on our long-standing relationships with local government units across the Philippines, and represents our continued commitment to our Filipino friends, partners, and allies in this time of crisis,” US Ambassador to Manila Sung Kim said as he welcomed the new tranche of support to the Philippines.
Moreover, the funds will provide supply chain analytics and promote a regulatory environment that facilitates logistics and transportation for food, medical products, and other essential goods.
USAID will facilitate access to credit and provide grants and skills training to help heavily affected sectors and communities to recover.
Another portion of the funding is the Php44 million ($875,000) from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration for the International Committee of the Red Cross to support the Philippines’ response to the pandemic, including increasing stocks of essential medical supplies and expanding hospital capacity, preventing the spread of disease in detention centers, and supporting resilience for vulnerable people and communities.
For the past 20 years, the US has provided more than Php228 billion ($4.5 billion) in development assistance to the Philippines over, including over Php29 billion ($582 million) in health assistance.