US official Leslie Basset visits Zambo, Isabela

Posted on Friday, February 3rd, 2012 and is filed under Lead Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

MANILA/3 February 2012 — U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Leslie Bassett visited Zamboanga City and Basilan today to connect with communities in Mindanao and attend a handover ceremony of five new school buildings recently constructed in Basilan and Sulu municipalities under an ongoing U.S.-funded project.

In Malamawi, Basilan, Ms. Basset turned over to community leaders the symbolic “keys” to five new and fully furnished two-classroom buildings constructed under the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Education Quality and Access for Learning and Livelihood Skills 2 (EquALLS2) program in partnership with the Petron Foundation. The schools, three in Jolo and two in Basilan, were jointly constructed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the U.S. Joint Operations Task Force-Philippines. In addition, these five schools will be provided with improved water supply and sanitation facilities through USAID’s Alliance for Mindanao Off-Grid Renewable Energy Program – Phase III (AMORE 3). Since 2008, USAID has assisted in the construction of 120 classrooms in the Western and Central Mindanao regions and in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Following the school activity, Ms. Bassett proceeded to Isabela City, Basilan where she met with a group of Basilan residents to listen to their views on developments in the region. Ms. Bassett also visited the Isabela City Municipal Trial Court to inspect the equipment provided by USAID to the court. In partnership with the Philippine judiciary, USAID is providing material assistance through the American Bar Association to all 33 first level courts in ARMM to improve efficiency and access to justice.

Ms. Bassett also presented a donation of books to the “American Shelf” at the Isabela City Public Library, and paid a visit as well to the American Corner at the library of Ateneo de Zamboanga University in Zamboanga City. These are special library collections featuring books, periodicals, and electronic resources about the United States or by U.S. authors that donated by the U.S. Government. Ateneo de Zamboanga University’s American Corner has received previous donations of books, as well as high-tech resources including Internet-linked computers and accessories, a television set, audio books, and an iPad.

At the University, Ms. Bassett held a dialogue with community leaders on the Mindanao peace process. She also met with student leaders, some of whom are recipients of the U.S. Ambassador’s Scholarship. These scholarships are awarded by the U.S. Embassy each year to outstanding high school graduates from the provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi who have demonstrated leadership and a commitment to serving their communities.

Just prior to departing Mindanao, Chargé Bassett also visited a USAID-supported halfway house managed by the Visayan Forum and the Philippine Ports Authority for trafficking in persons (TIP) victims. The halfway house provides temporary shelter, counseling, referral for long-term care, and skills training to TIP victims most of whom are intercepted by the Zamboanga City Sea-Based Anti-Trafficking Task Force or those seeking shelter and protection from exploitative conditions.  (Ref:  US Embassy Public Affairs Office)

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