Philippines risks losing US aid if soldiers join drug war: analyst

Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 10 2017 03:23 PM

Washington might suspend military aid to the Philippines if soldiers are deployed to President Rodrigo Duterte's war drugs, an American analyst said Friday.

The anti-narcotics campaign was relaunched this week, after being suspended for two months due to allegations of corruption.

"This could potentially have a devastating impact on the bilateral military relationship, introducing major complications to long-standing training and military education programs that could take decades to resolve," said Murray Hiebert of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

US agencies have criticized the anti-narcotics campaign, which left some 6,500 people killed since Duterte assumed office in June last year.

Hiebert said US lawmakers were discussing a possible response to Duterte's campaign, citing a recent statement from Senator Patrick Leahy that some US aid to the Philippines should come with conditions.

Leahy authored a 1997 bill that prohibits the US Departments of State and Defense from providing assistance to foreign militaries that commit “gross human rights violations” such as murder, torture, or rape. 

The annual "Balikatan" war games could be particularly affected, Hiebert said.

Based on CSIS records, the Philippines received $79 million in military assistance from the US in 2016, focused mainly on the navy, coast guard and air force.