Thursday, January 22, 2015

Improved human rights record? US lifts cap on military aid to PHL

From GMA News (Jan 22): Improved human rights record? US lifts cap on military aid to PHL

The US government has lifted a financial cap on military funding support to the Philippines, which was imposed five years ago due to concerns over alleged human rights violations.
For each year since 2009, the U.S. Congress had been enforcing a cutback of $3-million worth of assistance to the country amid many accusations of human rights violations by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which allegedly flourished during the term of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
“Yes they have (lifted it) sometime last year,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said at a lunch reception for the media.
Washington’s move to revoke the financial limit on its defense assistance to the Philippines signifies its acknowledgment of Manila’s progress in addressing human rights situation in the country under the leadership President Benigno S. Aquino III.
However, Del Rosario said the amount deducted on Manila’s military assistance in the last five years can no longer be recovered.
“It is not retroactive,” Del Rosario said.
US lawmakers earlier promised to lift the cap until the Philippine government meets certain conditions related to solving and prosecuting cases of extrajudicial killings.
The aid is deemed crucial to the government’s current efforts in upgrading its military—perceived to be one of the region’s weakest—in protecting its territorial sovereignty amid competing claims with China in resource-rich areas in the South China Sea.
Visiting US Defense and State Department officials, who were in Manila this week for a bilateral dialogue with Filipino counterparts, said Washington will be providing $40 million in military financing to the Philippines this year.
US Defense Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific David Shear said Washington’s continued assistance is part of its commitment to support Philippine efforts to modernize its military.
“We want to do everything we can to help the Philippine side make the best use of assistance we provide,” Shear said

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