MANILA The Australian government has allocated about USD85 million in development assistance to the Philippines, Australian Ambassador Steven Robinson said.
For the current time, we provide this year about USD85 million in development assistance, most of them by the beginning of the financial year, Robinson said during a media reception at the new Australian envoy to Manila's residence in Makati on Thursday.
A large part of the amount will be devoted to the development of Mindanao, he said, citing the importance of the implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
He said assistance for education will also continue as he committed more scholarship opportunities to the Filipino youth.
During his speech, Robinson cited the "firm" education ties between Manila and Canberra, which has already benefited some 12,600 Filipinos.
At present, at least 60 Filipino students are studying in Australia for their master's and doctoral degrees, he said.
"The development assistance on education is very important to us and we're looking at what more we can do to (expand) it," the envoy noted.
Aside from the development assistance, Robinson said Australia is also eyeing to improve its defense ties with the country through training and technical support.
"Since Marawi, defense ties between the two states have grown significantly. We're now looking at building defense and security links (with the Philippines)," he said.
After the Marawi conflict broke out in 2017 when government troops tried to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and his cohorts, Australia was among the country's international partners that extended technical assistance to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
During the siege, Canberra deployed two AP-3C "Orion" aircraft, which were used in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, helping Filipino forces mop up the terrorists in Marawi City. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency