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$18-million manna from US to blunt terror

The United States has committed about P1 billion or $18.7 million to the Bangsamoro Transitional Authority to bankroll the implementation of various programs aimed at reducing the drivers of violent extremism and increase community resilience to radicalization in Mindanao.

READ: P46 million on tap for Bangsamoro ‘normalization’

US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission John Law made the commitment during his meeting with officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in Cotabato, where he spearheaded a new Countering Violent Extremism partnership with local government units and civil society.

“The new CONVERGE program supports local government units, researchers and civil society organizations to reduce the drivers of violent extremism and increase community resilience to radicalization,” Law said in a statement released by the embassy.

CONVERGE is funded with P86 million from the US Department of State’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations and implemented in partnership with The Asia Foundation through local implementers Kadtuntaya Foundation Inc., Integrated Resource Development for Tri-People, Inc.  and Nagdilaab Foundation Inc.

Law also reaffirmed the US government’s commitment to democratic governance and health in the Bangsamoro during his visits to two ongoing US Agency for International Development projects:

USAID’s more than P101 million so-called FORWARD Bangsamoro project, implemented in partnership with the Asia Foundation, which supports the Bangsamoro Transition Authority to bolster effective and accountable local governance;

USAID’s more than P760-million health project, implemented at the request of the BARMM Ministry of Health and in collaboration with the University Research Co. LLC, will implement programs to help save the lives of mothers and newborns and improve the families’ quality of life.

“These projects build upon more than two decades of US development assistance and investment to the Bangsamoro,” the embassy said.

Meanwhile, the US Embassy and the Philippine Judicial Academy conducted training on Nov. 19 and 20 for 24 Mindanao judges on money laundering, terrorist financing, and financial crimes.

The workshop included participants from Sulu, Basilan, Marawi, and Zamboanga, all areas of the Philippines that experienced terrorist attacks recently.

During this two-day workshop, Paul Warner, US Chief Magistrate Judge, District of Utah, explained key ways criminal proceeds are laundered and the techniques used to investigate financial crimes. Warner welcomed the opportunity to return to the Philippines, where he had lived previously.

US DOJ Resident Legal Adviser David Bragdon discussed international perspectives on the ponzi schemes and asset management.  

Distinguished Philippine lecturers discussed forfeiture, the Philippine Anti-Money Laundering Council and key procedural and substantive aspects of money laundering prosecutions.  

The Philippine experts who presented included Matthew David of the Anti-Money Laundering Council Secretariat, Jose Jesus Disini Jr., Juan De Zuniga Jr. from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Teresita Herbosa.

“We learned a lot as the laws discussed and situations presented are very relevant to these times, especially with the ease of transactions that the Internet and other high technology gadgets provide. Financial crimes are also becoming common now with the proliferation of pyramid and ponzi schemes here in the Philippines,” RTC Judge Sittie Laarni Umpa of Marawi City said.

“We are very thankful to the speakers and the sponsors because we have gained deeper insights and those insights widened our perspective on the issues and laws discussed.”

Warner said “The cooperation and goodwill between the United States and Philippines with respect to combatting money laundering was gratifying to me to see and experience. I am confident that these training conferences serve both of our countries well.”

READ: Duterte Oks proposed order on Bangsamoro

Topics: Bangsamoro Transitional Authority , John Law , Countering Violent Extremism , Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
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