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MANILA, Philippines – Pennsylvania Representative Susan Wild introduced a measure, which seeks to limit the United States’ security assistance to the Philippine National Police (PNP) over human rights concerns.
On Thursday, July 14, human rights group International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines-US (ICHRP US) said that the Pennsylvania lawmaker submitted a proposed amendment to the US’ National Defense Authorization Act.
In her proposal, Wild said no funds should be given to the PNP unless the Philippine government acts on the alleged human rights abuses committed by the national police.
“No funds authorized to be appropriated or otherwise made available to the Department of State are authorized to be made available to provide assistance for the Philippine National Police, including assistance in the form of equipment or training,” the proposal said.
Wild listed down four conditions for the PNP in order for aid to continue:
- Investigated and prosecuted members of the PNP “who violated human rights, ensured that police personnel cooperated with judicial authorities in such cases and affirmed that such violations have ceased.”
- Established that the PNP would protect the rights of journalists, trade unionists, human rights defenders, critics of the government, religious and activists “to operate without interference.”
- Taken steps to guarantee a judicial system capable of investigating and prosecuting members of the police and military who have committed human rights abuses.
- Fully compliant with national and US audits and probe on proper use of prior security assistance.
During her remarks on the US House floor, Wild emphasized that tax dollars should not be used to aid the Philippines amid issues of human rights abuses.
ICHRP US said the friendship between the Philippines and the US was best exemplified through Wild’s “bold steps.”
“Friendship between the people of the United States and the Philippines is demonstrated by genuine acts of solidarity, like those being exemplified by Rep. Wild in her taking bold steps towards a more sensible U.S.-Philippines relationship,” Drew Miller, national coordinator of ICHRP-US, said.
In 2020, Wild also introduced House Resolution No. 8313 or the proposed Philippine Human Rights Act, which also sought to suspend security assistance to the country until it had made “certain reforms to the military and police forces, and for other purposes.”
A year later, in 2021, Wild vowed to reintroduce the measure following more bloody killings occurring in the Philippines.
Why this matters
- Biggest aid recipient. Aside from strong diplomatic and military ties between the Philippines and the United States, the Philippines is the largest recipient of military assistance from the US in the entire Indo-Pacific region. According to the US embassy in Manila, the Philippines has so far received P48.6 billion (around $1 billion) worth of military assistance from the US since 2015.
- Financing from the US. In a span of three years, from 2016 to 2019, Washington was also able to lend the Philippines $267 million worth of foreign military financing for acquisition of defense assets.
- Types of assistance. Among the usual assistance of the US are anti-terrorism equipment, which includes a Cellebrite software, a technology used for intelligence. The PNP also receives equipment used for the crisis response team from the US.