Kamala Harris' jam-packed visit: Programs for investment in PH, Mindanao geothermal project | Inquirer News

Kamala Harris’ jam-packed visit: Programs for investment in PH, Mindanao geothermal project

/ 01:10 PM November 21, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — United States Vice President Kamala Harris appears to have a tight schedule for her visit to the country, as her office released a series of initiatives and programs that the official will discuss in the coming days.

In a fact sheet sent by the US Office of the Vice President (OVP) on Sunday night, Harris is set to address several points of discussion, all of which reaffirm the strong ties between the two countries.

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“The Vice President’s travel to the Philippines reaffirms the bilateral alliance and will spur cooperation on a range of issues, including advancing clean energy, addressing the climate crisis, promoting inclusive growth and innovation, increasing access to quality education and health resources, combating trafficking in persons, facing common security challenges, supporting freedom of the seas, and deepening people-to-people ties,” the US OVP said.

Among the items mentioned by the OVP is the United States Trade and Development Agency’s (USTDA) decision to open an office at the US Embassy in Manila to help companies make investments in the Philippines, which would then boost the country’s energy and infrastructure needs.

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“This office will ensure that USTDA’s current pipeline of bankable projects [reaches] financial close and that new project opportunities are identified in partnership with the Asian Development Bank, US development finance institutions, private banks, and other country partners in the region,” the OVP said.

“Partnering more strategically with regional financiers will ensure high-quality infrastructure projects are financed and implemented using U.S. technology and expertise, creating mutual benefit among the Philippines, the United States, and the broader Indo-Pacific Region,” it added.

Aside from that, both countries’ Department of Energy would also start an Energy Policy Dialogue to develop other energy sources.

“The US Department of Energy, US Department of State, and Philippine Department of Energy will establish an Energy Policy Dialogue, a high-level platform for the two nations to develop new forms of energy cooperation, including on short and long-term energy planning, offshore wind development, and grid stability and power transmission,” the OVP said.

The OVP also mentioned building a geothermal project in Mindanao to diversify the country’s energy sources and provide electricity needs without the harmful side effects.

“The United States will partner with Philippine energy company Energy Development Corporation (EDC) to develop a geothermal project in Mindanao that will expand access to clean energy, reduce emissions, diversify the Philippines’ energy mix, and bring down energy costs for consumers,” the office noted.

Among the other items mentioned in the fact sheet are:

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  • Food security dialogue
  • Talks on bolstering organic agriculture
  • Expanding reliable, secure 5G networks
  • Satellite broadband service with the help of Space X’s Starlink
  • Providing digital opportunity to small businesses
  • Investing in women entrepreneurs
  • Joint program for human rights
  • Elevating US-PH health security partnership
  • Veteran healthcare
  • Fighting human trafficking

The US OVP also said that the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) would be discussed during Harris’ meeting with local officials, particularly on the new sites under EDCA.

“New EDCA locations have also been identified to enable the United States and the Philippines to continue to work together towards achieving the agreed objectives under EDCA,” OVP said.

“The United States has awarded the vast majority of contracts supporting these projects to Philippine companies, generating economic growth in local Philippine communities and building lasting friendships between the United States and the Philippines,” it added.

Harris is also expected to meet with President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte.  The US Vice President would then have other engagements before visiting Palawan to check on fisherfolk and the effects of climate change in the area.

Harris arrived in Manila on Sunday evening aboard Air Force Two and was welcomed by local officials led by Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez and US Ambassador MaryKay Carlson.

Harris is the highest-ranked US official who visited the Philippines under Marcos’ administration and the first top White House executive to make the trip to Manila since former president Donald Trump.

READ: Kamala Harris to meet with Marcos, Duterte on US-PH security, economic ties 

je/abc

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