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USAID in Mindanao: The Other Side of the US COIN: Page 2 of 10

Posted on 22 June 2017

2002. Development assistance itself almost doubled from 2001 to 2002, from around USD 27.6 million to USD 45.6 million. These correspond to the 2001 decision of former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to support the “war on terror” in Mindanao.

During the US “pivot to Asia,” from 2012 onwards, the Philippines also became the number one recipient of US military and economic aid in general, taking the position from Indonesia. Comparing 2015 to 2011, the latter a pre-US “pivot” year, there was an increase in economic aid from USD 166 million to USD 293 million and military aid from USD 39 million to USD 90 million. This might be seen as reflecting the US priority of strengthening its military presence during the Asia pivot. In fact, US documents describe how military presence is essential in the “maintenance of peace, stability, the free flow of commerce, and of U.S. influence” in the region (Department of Defense 2012, 2).

As of 2015, the United States is the fourth biggest development aid donor to the Philippines, with ODA to the Philippines at USD 236.9 million in that same year (Devex, 2016). Other major donors are Japan (with USD 238 million), the World Bank (at USD 356 million), and the Asian Development Bank (at USD 803 million).

Also in 2015, the USAID, one of the major US agencies concerned with development assistance, allocated to the Philippines the highest amount of economic aid in the East Asia and Oceania region (USD 180.6 million). From 2001 to 2014, with the exemption of the year 2008, the Philippines remained second to Indonesia as the top recipient country of USAID in the region. ODA alone also increased from USD 41 million in 2012 to USD 98 million in 2015, which makes the 2015 ODA allocation 139% higher than that of 2012.

The scope of USAID work

According to the agency’s official website, USAID is the “lead US Government agency” that works against poverty and for the strengthening of democratic societies (USAID, 2017). It is also a major US agency when it comes to delivering development assistance.

The USAID website describes that while the agency can “work in active conflict, or help countries transition from violence,” it considers preventing the emergence of violent conflict to beof the highest importance (USAID, 2017). As described in The Development Response to Violent Extremism, a USAID policy document, the agency’s programs aim to address the conditions or “drivers of violent extremism and insurgency,” such as economic inequality, lack of effective governance and corruption (USAID, 2011).

USAID describes how addressing these conditions concern development responses, in addition to “build[ing] the effectiveness and legitimacy of state institutions,” including local governments (USAID, 2011: 5). As a result, USAID programs range from good governance and anti-corruption reforms, youth employment, reconstruction in post-conflict zones, to basic service delivery.

“The Development Reponse” also shows how “stabilization” is taken into account in how USAID designs its programs (USAID, 2011: 8), and thus integrated into overall development strategies with countries. Stabilization here means “the process of making a country less likely to descend

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