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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

US Congress bill seeks to halt assistance to PH police, military

Human rights “abuses” cited

By: Cathrine Gonzales – Reporter / @cgonzalesINQ, INQUIRER.net /September 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — A bill seeking to suspend the United States’ provision of security assistance to the Philippines until the Philippine government has made “certain reforms to the military and police forces” has been introduced in the US Congress.

The proposed Philippine Human Rights Act, sponsored by Pennsylvania Rep. Susan Wild, was introduced on September 17.

In introducing the bill, Wild cited human rights abuses in the country as well as President Rodrigo Duterte’s “brutal regime using the pretext of the so-called anti-terrorism law to ramp up efforts targeting labor organizers, workers, and political opponents.”

“In response to these abuses, I introduced the Philippine Human Rights Act, which would block US funding for police or military assistance to the Philippines, outlining a serious basic criteria which would have to be met in order to resume such funding,” she said in a video of her sponsorship speech that was played in a press conference Thursday.

“I am proud to stand alongside so many faith and civil society organizations in advocating for this legislation,” Wild added.

If passed into law, the following conditions must be met by the Philippine government for the suspension of funding to be lifted:

  • Investigate and prosecute members of the military and police forces who are credibly found to have violated human rights
  • Withdraw the military from domestic policy
  • Establish protection of the rights of trade unionists, journalists, human right defenders, indigenous persons, small-farmers, LGBTI activists, and critics of the government
  • Take steps to guarantee a judicial system that is capable of investigating, prosecuting, and bringing to justice members of the police and military who have committed human rights abuses
  • Fully comply with any and all audits or investigations regarding the improper use of US security aid

The bill, co-sponsored by 24 other US lawmakers, has been referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Committee on Financial Services of the US Congress.

“Let us make clear that the US will not participate in the repression. Let us stand with the people of the Philippines,” said Wild. PA

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