‘A very wild suggestion’: Palace says of US bill seeking to cut security aid to PH
MANILA, Philippines — “That’s a very wild suggestion.”
This was how Malacañang described a proposed legislation in the U.S. Congress that seeks to block funding for security forces in the Philippines until the government puts an end to its alleged human rights violations.
Rep. Susan Wild (Pennsylvania) introduced the Philippine Human Rights Act on Sept. 17, citing the Duterte administration’s “brutal regime using the pretext of the so-called anti-terrorism law to ramp up efforts targeting labor organizers, workers, and political opponents.”
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque expressed confidence that the U.S. government will consider the importance of the Philippines in its own national interest.
“Hindi natin pinanghihimasukan ang mga soberanyang bansa. Kung gusto nilang gawin, gawin nila ‘yan. Pero kampante nga tayo, sa tingin ko kinikilala naman ng Estados Unidos ang halaga ng Pilipinas sa pagiging partner niya pagdating din sa mga usapain ng national security ng Estados Unidos mismo,” Roque said in a televised Palace press briefing on Thursday.
(We do not interfere with sovereign nations. If they want to do it, then do it. But we are complacent, I think the United States recognizes the value of the Philippines as its partner when it comes to matters of its own national security.)
“Hayaan na po nating gumulong ang proseso sa Estados Unidos, pero iisa lang po ‘yan out of ilang hundreds of congressmen and congresswomen sa U.S. Congress,” he added.
“Kinakailangang aprubahan pa ‘yan ng U.S. Senate dahil pareho naman ang sistema ng Amerika at Pilipinas pagdating po sa legislation,” he went on.
(Let the process roll in the United States, but that is just one out of several hundreds of congressmen and congresswomen in the US Congress. And the US Senate still needs to approve it because the American and Philippine systems are the same when it comes to legislation.)
President Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11479, or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 on July 3 despite massive opposition from various sectors over fears that it could be used as a potential state weapon against dissent. The law allows the detention of suspects for up to 24 days without charge and empowers an anti-terrorism council to designate suspects or groups as suspected terrorists who could be subjected to arrests and surveillance.
Duterte’s top military and security officials have cited the continuing threat of terror groups in the country such as the Abu Sayyaf Group as the main reason for the need for the law.
However, local and international human rights advocates, lawyer groups, and even some lawmakers opposed the law which they said may be abused by law enforcers.
Several petitions have been filed before the Supreme Court to challenge the constitutionality of the law.
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