Nine elective local government officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao have been invited to the United States as part of that country’s International Visitors Leadership Program, the US Embassy in Manila said Thursday.
The IVLP “creates opportunities for business, professional, and academic collaboration, and offers direct exposure to American systems and values” as it introduces “current and emerging foreign leaders to their professional counterparts in US communities,” a statement from the embassy said.
In his invitation, US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Y. Kim said the project “shall introduce (the ARMM officials) to best practices of community engagement to address crime, drug abuse, extremism, and other social concerns,” Jennie Alonto Tamano, head of the Lanao Sur Provincial Information Office, disclosed.
The participating officials include ARMM Regional Vice Governor Haroun Alonto Lucman, Lanao del Sur Vice Governor Mamintal Alonto Adiong Jr., and Mayor Majul Gandamra of Marawi City.
Also on the list are Maguindanao mayors Ibrahim Ibay of Parang and Abdulkarin Langkuno of Paglat, and Lanao del Sur mayors Dimnatang Pansar of Butig, Nashiba Gandamra-Sumagayan of Taraka, Ali Sumandar of Piagapo, and Shariefullah Tanog of Pualas.
Molly Koscina, a staff member of the Philippine Embassy’s Manila Information Office, said the IVLP is the premier professional exchange program” of the US Department of State, which provides “firsthand knowledge about the US society, culture, and politics, while cultivating professional relationships.”
Official sources, including the US Embassy’s Manila Information Office, provided no specific itinerary of travel, but by the landmarks shown in photographs some of them posted on social media, would indicate they were in Washington D.C. on their first day of travel on Monday (Tuesday in Manila).
“The goal of the IVLP is to provide firsthand knowledge about US society, culture, and politics, while cultivating professional relationships,” Koscina said.
The information from the US Embassy said the ARMM local officials’ IVLP program focuses on local governance issues, particularly on: 1) Observing how government services are administered at the federal, state, and local levels; 2) Examining processes for the delivery of basic services, fiscal responsibility, transparency, and accountability; 3) Studying programs for managing diverse communities; and, 4) Learning best practices from communities that are successfully addressing drugs, crime, and extremism among their youth populations.