Thursday, January 14, 2010

Outgoing US Ambassador praised in the Philippines

SULU, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / January 14, 2010) - Sulu governor Dr Sakur Tan has praised outgoing US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney for her contribution to peace and development efforts in the southern province which is a beneficiary of multi-million pesos worth of humanitarian projects.

Tan also thanked Kenney, who is ending her tour in the Philippines, for her many contributions to the progress of Sulu, one of five provinces under the Muslim autonomous region.

“On behalf on my people, we thank the good Ambassador Kristie Kenney, who was a frequent visitor of Sulu, for her many contribution to peace and development. And forever, we will be grateful to you,” Tan told reporters.

Kenney was a frequent visitor in Sulu where she led US officials in many inaugurations of infrastructure projects funded by the United States Agency for International Development and Growth with Equity in Mindanao.

Tan said it was also during Kenney’s time that Washington, through the USAID and the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines poured tens of millions of dollars worth of humanitarian and development projects, including the rehabilitation of the airport in Jolo town.

“Ambassador Kristie Kenney is a face that Sulu had grown accustomed to. What with her frequent visits and calls that render normalcy and acknowledgment that all is well in Sulu despite the otherwise impressions that are unkindly tagged on the face of this promising. The hands of welcome of the Tausug will always be kept warm for Kristie,” Tan said.

“In our subdued way, we may not be eloquent or articulate enough or even openly enough to describe our sense of pride and honor that the representative of the strongest country in the globe is a true friend of many students and pupils, of many needy residents, and the many constituents of far-flung villages. A good dream is worth sharing; the American Dream is a reality worth emulating,” he added.

Kenney ends her tour of duty and will return to the United States after serving for more than three years as ambassador to Manila after President Barrack Obama designated Harry Thomas, Jr. as the new ambassador to the Philippines.

Tan said in his stint as public servant, he considers himself lucky because he has two great women, referring to Kenney and President Gloria Arroyo, who stood behind him and the people of Sulu and made the going easier in this seemingly “ungovernable land.”

“President Gloria -Arroyo, an epitome of an iron lady who brushed aside the machissimo of traditional politics, and of course Ambassador Kenney, who in their own distinct yet complementing ways, steered me in the right path and aided me to clear even the hardest hurdles placed in my path.”

“I can’t help but beam with added pride that of the many matters that demand the attention of then President George Bush and President Arroyo when they met in Australia, the need of Sulu for an expanded airport runway was included in their agenda. Now, as history had witnessed, we have inaugurated the completed extended runway of the Jolo Airport, and rightly so, President Arroyo and Ambassador Kenney were in Sulu to grace the occasion,” Tan said.

The airport was inaugurated last month.

The governor said words will not be enough to enumerate the myriads of projects that the American people and government had rendered to Sulu and its people.

“During the tour of duty of Her Excellency Ambassador Kristie Kenney, the many visits that she had made to Sulu will remain embedded in the minds and hearts of many Tausug. Sulu had gone through many sadness and lamentations. Yet there is this special sort of sadness of seeing a good friend bidding us farewell.”

”But there are comforting hopes and expectations that the good relations between the American people and the people of Sulu will continue and usher forward an era free from the shackles of the past but bonded in shared convictions towards a peaceful world for all mankind,” Tan said.

Most of the American infrastructure projects in Sulu were built by US troops who belong to the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines and assisted by Filipino soldiers. Among them were schools, roads, bridges, health centers, water projects and buildings in Sulu’s 19 towns.

Kenney said working with so many Filipinos, from all walks of life, has been one of the most memorable experiences of her life. She said it has been an extraordinary honor and privilege to serve as the US ambassador to the Philippines for more than three and a half years.

“I have come to deeply appreciate not just the warmth and friendship of Filipinos, but also their determination to make their country, region, and world a better place for their children and grandchildren. It has been a true pleasure to live in this beautiful country, and to lead the US Embassy in efforts to partner with the government and people of the Philippines for the greater good of Americans and Filipinos alike,” Kenney said.

The Philippines’ largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation, also praised Kenney for her support to the peace process in Mindanao. Kenney visited a rebel base in Mindanao last year and spoke with the secluded MILF chieftain Murad Ebrahim.

Kenney was the first US ambassador to visit the rebel base.

“She could have stayed longer in the Philippines. She has contributed a lot in the peace process and Ambassador Kenney would be remembered well by the Bangsamoro people for her sincerity and untiring efforts and contribution to the peace talks between the MILF and the Philippine government,” said Eid Kabalu, a senior MILF leader. (Mindanao Examiner)

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