Navy gets more military aid from US

By Aurea Calica, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 03 2014 09:24 AM | Updated as of May 03 2014 05:24 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The US government's foreign military financing to the Philippines has been increasing although only for the Navy, which does not have a bad record of human rights violations.

Earlier, Ambassador to Washington Jose Cuisia Jr. was quoted in a report as saying the country stood to receive more US military assistance once the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) was signed.

For this year, Cuisia said the US allocated about $50 million in foreign military financing for the Philippines, nearly double the previous year’s sum.

Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino, chairman of the Philippine negotiating panel for EDCA, denied the military assistance was still tied to the human rights records of the Philippines.

“In previous years, a certain portion of the (fund) was withheld due to alleged high level of human rights violations. But for the most recent foreign military financing, it was substantially increased and no amount was withheld as it was allocated for the Philippine Navy,” Batino said but did not give specific amounts.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the government, particularly the Department of National Defense (DND), had been forthright in addressing human rights issues and that it was understandable for the US to look into reports about the Philippines as they made an assessment on the military aid to be provided to the country.

According to Cuisia, it would be up to the Armed Forces to determine their needs vis-à-vis the military assistance from the US.

Cuisia said the military was considering newer vessels and that Washington also promised to help it acquire long-range maritime patrol aircraft to enable the Philippines to keep closer watch on its maritime borders in the West Philippine Sea.

The Philippines was also set to get another $40 million from a US global security contingency fund to be used strictly to boost naval capability, based on an earlier Reuters report.

During his state visit, US President Barack Obama pledged to assist the Philippines in the establishment of a National Coast Watch Center.

The NCWC is an inter-agency mechanism aimed at enhancing maritime border security and enhancing governance in the country’s maritime domains pursuant to Executive Order No. 57 issued in September 2011.

“The US wants to promote enhanced maritime information sharing with its allies namely the Philippines, Japan and Australia, as this would be helpful in managing maritime conflicts and disputes,” Coloma said.