On May 19, U.S. Embassy in the Philippines Chargé d’Affaires ad interim (CDA) Heather Variava visited Tawi-Tawi to promote shared U.S.-Philippine values such as press freedom and to strengthen the already robust collaboration with local partners for inclusive peace in the region.,In her keynote address at Mindanao State University-Tawi-Tawi College of Technology and Oceanography’s (MSU TCTO) World Press Freedom Day event, CDA Variava emphasized the media’s significant role in democratic societies to the audience of more than 100 students and faculty.,“It is important for our democracies and for our future that we find ways to make media freedom a reality. We need to protect these freedoms on the digital frontiers and in traditional media,” said CDA Variava.,During her trip, CDA Variava also engaged with local government officials, met with Armed Forces of the Philippines Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi Commander Brig. Gen. Romeo Racadio, and toured the American Corner at MSU TCTO.,CDA Variava’s discussion with Brig. Gen. Racadio, alongside members of U.S. Special Operations Task Force 511.2, focused on working together to strengthen maritime security posture and address security challenges in the South China Sea and the Sulu Archipelago.,Task Force 511.2 partners with the Western Mindanao Command and has teams embedded directly with Philippine forces throughout the area.,Since 2003, the U.S. government-supported American Corner Tawi-Tawi has been a library and community resource space for the MSU TCTO community. Housed on two floors of the MSU library, the American Corner features books and reference materials about American history, culture, and institutions, plus information about studying in the United States.,It also features a mural that is part of the Embassy’s Friends-Partners-Allies Mural Project, incorporating U.S.-Philippine shared values and traditional elements of Tawi-Tawi culture.
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