Zamboanga City – The United States government has agreed to extend a US $1 million grant for the establishment of a Maritime Command Center, which will be run by the Philippine National Police (PNP), to combat piracy and terrorism in this city.

The pledge to extend the grant was made during the visit of US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Y. Kim in this city on Thursday.

Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar said Kim agreed to the extension period of the grant, since the PNP has yet to settle the land title of the area where the command center will be constructed.

The period of the grant, which was pledged last year, will expire this year.

The city government said they are eyeing for the construction of the Maritime Command Center to begin within the year.

The center will be located in Barangay Bolong, a coastal village located 32.60 kilometers east of city hall.

The Maritime Command Center aims to beef up security measures to curb the presence of terrorists, smugglers, pirates, and other criminal groups in the area.

“The city of Zamboanga expressed its gratitude to the U.S. government for its continued support to the city,” Salazar said after their closed-door meeting with the US ambassador.

She said this city has been getting technical as well as financial support from the US government through its development arm, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), especially after the 21-day September, 2013 siege.

Among the US interventions in this city are the Water Security for Resilient Economic Growth and Stability (Be Secure) project; skills training for out-of-school youth under the Mindanao Youth for Development, wildlife trafficking assistance, and improving the city government’s operations in centralizing and streamlining business permit processing.

Source: Manila Bulletin