Duterte govt says it won’t bow to Amer­ica to get aid

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

MANILA: The Philip­pines’ top diplo­mat crit­i­cized the United States yesterday for de­fer­ring a de­ci­sion on a ma­jor aid pack­age over hu­man rights con­cerns and said the Philip­pines can sur­vive with­out it. For­eign Sec­re­tary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said the un­cer­tainty over the aid pack­age emerged af­ter Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte de­clared he would chart a for­eign pol­icy in­de­pen­dent of the United States.

A US gov­ern­ment aid agency, the Mil­len­nium Chal­lenge Cor­po­ra­tion, said this week that its board de­ferred a vote on a re­newal of the de­vel­op­ment as­sis­tance pack­age for the Philip­pines “sub­ject to a fur­ther review of con­cerns around rule of law and civil lib­er­ties.” The Philip­pines had been slated for an­other aid pack­age af­ter its pre­vi­ous five-year, $434 mil­lion poverty re­duc­tion pro­gram was com­pleted in May un­der Duterte’s pre­de­ces­sor, Benigno Aquino III. Duterte took of­fice in June.

The agency’s spokes­woman, Laura Allen, said Thurs­day it will con­tinue to mon­i­tor events in the Philip­pines be­fore the next board review in March 2017. The US de­ci­sion is among the first signs of how con­cerns about the rule of law and hu­man rights un­der Duterte could en­tail eco­nomic costs.

The US gov­ern­ment, along with Euro­pean Union and United Na­tions of­fi­cials, has raised con­cerns about Duterte’s crack­down on il­le­gal drugs, which has left more than 2,000 sus­pected drug users and deal­ers dead in pur­ported gun­bat­tles with po­lice. More than 3,000 other deaths are be­ing in­ves­ti­gated to de­ter­mine if they were linked to il­le­gal drugs. Duterte has lashed out at Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, his ad­min­is­tra­tion and other crit­ics of his crack­down with ex­ple­tive-laden tirades.

“If we will be given this as­sis­tance ... we first have to bow down to the im­po­si­tions of con­di­tions that they are mak­ing and this is some­thing that we feel is not con­ducive to strength­en­ing our re­la­tion­ship with friends, es­pe­cially tra­di­tional al­lies, es­pe­cially close friends,” Yasay said at a news con­fer­ence in Sin­ga­pore, where he and other of­fi­cials are ac­com­pa­ny­ing the pres­i­dent on a two-day visit. “This has al­ways been our ap­peal to Amer­ica. — AP


SIN­GA­PORE: Philip­pines Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte (cen­tre left) poses for a selfie dur­ing a meet­ing with the Filipino com­mu­nity in Sin­ga­pore yesterday.

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