The United States said Thursday it would provide the Philippines $26.5 million to help in counterterrorism efforts as its key Asian ally battles pro-Islamic State (IS) militants in the country’s troubled south.
The money would be disbursed over the next two years “to boost counterterrorism support for Philippine law enforcement agencies,” a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Manila said in a statement.
The assistance will include training, equipment and other support to build “comprehensive law enforcement capacity within a rule of law framework to deny terrorist operations, funding and movement; investigate and prosecute terrorism cases; and counter radicalization to violence and violent extremism,” the statement said.
“I am proud to announce that the United States will contribute 1.418 billion pesos ($26.5 million) over the next two years to boost counterterrorism support for Philippine law enforcement agencies,” Amb. Sung Kim said.
“Our joint efforts to confront shared threats to the peace and security of both of our countries is another powerful example of the depth and breadth of our relationship as friends, partners, and allies,” he said.
The Philippines is one of the oldest U.S. allies in the Asia-Pacific region.
Last year, President Rodrigo Duterte expressed profound appreciation for the American government when it helped his young administration defeat IS-linked militants, who had taken over the southern city of Marawi.
But Duterte has said intelligence reports indicated that dozens of fighters had escaped. Military officials said surviving members were trying to recruit additional fighters.
The United States said the new aid for “non-military rule-of-law approaches” to addressing terrorist threats would complement efforts to beef up the counterterrorism capabilities of the Philippine military.
Manila is by far the largest recipient of Washington’s military assistance in the region.
In the past few years, the United States has delivered millions of dollars of planes, ships, armored vehicles and small arms to the Philippines, Sung Kim said in a message to mark Philippine-American Friendship Day on July 4, which is also U.S. Independence Day.
Earlier this year, the United States delivered a Scan Eagle Unmanned Aerial System to the Philippine Air Force (PAF), which will provide unmanned intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to the Philippine military.
Last month, the United States provided personal protective equipment to the Philippine Marine Special Operations Group, many of members of whom are deployed in insurgency-wracked provinces on Mindanao island.
In 2017, the United States donated two Cessna 208B air intelligence and surveillance aircraft to the Philippine military.
Since then, the aircraft have enhanced the PAF’s counterterrorism capabilities and helped protect Philippines military personnel actively engaged in counterterrorism operations, Sung Kim said.