Alvarez: About time PH doesn’t rely on foreign aid
Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez on Monday said it’s about time the country does not rely on foreign aid from the country’s closest allies.
Alvarez made this statement in a press conference when sought for his reaction to two US senators’ position to consider imposing conditions on foreign aid to the Philippines in light of the vigilante killings of suspected criminals at the height of the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.
The Davao Del Norte representative said it’s time the Philippine government uphold the country’s sovereignty despite the inflow of foreign aid.
“‘Yung aid aid na yan, ano yan, nasa kanila yun kung ibibigay nila yun or hindi. Wala tayong pakialam dun. Huwag nila tayong bigyan ng kung anu-anong kondisyon (The aid is up to them to give or not. It’s none of our business. They should not impose conditions),” Alvarez said.
“Siguro, kailangang mag-appreciate din natin yung sovereignty natin. It’s high time huwag tayo umasa sa mga foreign aid na yan (Perhaps we must appreciate our sovereignty. It’s high time we stop relying on foreign aid),” Alvarez added.
In a colloquy with fellow Senator Benjamin Cardin titled “Recent Developments in the Philippines and Indonesia” which was entered in the congressional records on Sept. 26, Senator Patrick Leahy cited the law he authored that the US should not give aid to countries with a dismal record of human rights.
Since President Rodrigo Duterte waged his war on drugs, at least 3,000 suspected drug criminals have been killed, mostly vigilante murders of suspected pushers whose bodies were dumped on the streets of the metropolitan with their faces covered in tape beside a poster declaring “Huwag tularan (Don’t emulate).”
“I share the Senator’s views about the importance of the U.S.-Philippines alliance, and his concerns with the implications of President Duterte’s anti-drug policies for that alliance. I wrote the Leahy Law, which applies worldwide, to ensure that the U.S. is not complicit in human rights violations committed by forces that might receive U.S. assistance, and to encourage foreign governments to hold accountable perpetrators of such abuses,” Leahy said.
Leahy said it may be time to consider imposing “conditions” on the grant of US foreign aid being given to the Philippine government.
“While there are ways we can find out which units were involved in these abuses, if President Duterte’s government is unwilling to work with us, including by refusing to investigate allegations of abuses, then we are faced with a broader issue that cannot be remedied simply by withholding assistance from specific units or individuals,” Leahy said.
The Leahy law, or the Foreign Assistance Act, states that “No assistance shall be furnished under this Act… to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.”
“The Leahy Law should be used to encourage reform and accountability, but to address these systemic challenges it may be necessary to consider further conditions on assistance to the Duterte government to ensure that U.S. taxpayer funds are property spent and until that government demonstrates a commitment to the rule of law. I have asked the State Department to discuss this with us to help inform our deliberations on current assistance for the Philippines and on decisions we will make for appropriations in fiscal year 2017,” Leahy said.
Alvarez said although the country should not rely on foreign aid, it could live on its own provided it uses its resources according to its need.
“Kung ibaba natin ang pangangailangan natin, wala tayong problema diyan (If we would lessen our needs, there would be no problem),” Alvarez said.
Duterte, a close friend of Alvarez, vowed to take on an independent foreign policy, as he criticized longtime ally US for opposing his administration’s war on drugs, while he considered strengthening ties with China and Russia, two giant economies challenging the US in the global arena.
Duterte even said this year’s joint military exercises with the US would be the last one, citing the position of China against the joint war games. The President even threatened to end the joint military agreement, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which sought to increase US troops’ rotational presence in the Philippines. RAM/rga
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