AMERICAN Ambassador Philip S. Goldberg concluded a successful trip to Jolo on June 2, his first visit to the island in the Sulu archipelago, and held a meeting with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
He discussed local concerns and how the United States and the Philippines can continue to work together to promote peace and security. The ambassador also met with US troops in Jolo temporarily to advise and assist the AFP.
He also spent some time with a small group of alumni of US government youth-exchange programs to hear about their experiences, and discuss how they contribute to their communities through volunteerism.
The US has a number of ongoing programs that benefit the people of Jolo.
Since 2004, 40 local young people have benefited from the US Department of State exchange programs, such as the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Program, a one-year high-school exchange program; and the Philippine Youth Leadership Program, a monthlong training focused on conflict resolution and interfaith tolerance.
Sulu Island is also a primary focus area for a United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) program to help build capacity within the PNP.
The USDOJ’s International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (Icitap) has worked with the PNP to train approximately 1,300 PNP officers (a number of which originate from Sulu) in areas such as community policing, media relations, basic police operations and crime-scene investigation.
Icitap assistance also helped establish a PNP training center in Jolo, so that its officers can receive training locally, instead of having to travel to Manila or elsewhere.
As part of the US government’s support for peace, stability and good governance in the Philippines, the United States Agency for International Development has been working in Sulu province, Jolo City and Maimbung town to build local capacity for better delivery of education and health services, and has an ongoing project to support increased engagement between communities and local governments.