US: $32-M aid must promote human rights, rule of law

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 12 2016 05:30 PM

US: $32-M aid must promote human rights, rule of law 1
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (R) greets U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip S. Goldberg (L) as visiting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry looks on during his visit at the Malacanang presidential palace in metro Manila, Philippines July 27, 2016. Aaron Favila, Reuters

The United States has reiterated it is against extrajudicial killings, as it emphasized that the monetary assistance it provides Philippines must "promote due process and rule of law."

US, through its embassy in Manila, aired its concern over "reports regarding extrajudicial killings of individuals suspected to have been involved in drug activity in the Philippines."

"We strongly urge the Philippines to ensure its law enforcement efforts are consistent with its human rights obligations," it said Friday.

READ: US expresses concern over extrajudicial killings in PH

"The United States strongly believes in the rule of law, due process, and respect for universal human rights, and that these principles promote long-term security," US embassy said. 

It also stressed that a $32-million aid, which President Rodrigo Duterte recently mentioned, has been earmarked in previous fiscal years but is being programmed now. 

"The U.S. funding of $32 million in question is not new funding, but rather cumulative funding previously appropriated that we are currently implementing," US Embassy in Manila said.

Duterte mentioned the American assistance during his visit to the headquarters of the 3rd Infantry Division, where he assured soldiers of government support.

Duterte said he plans to divide the amount "left" by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry after his visit to the country between the military and police.

The embassy however pointed out that the assistance provided by these funds will be vetted in a "rigorous" manner as their other security assistance."

"All of our security assistance promotes human rights through training content and by promoting professionalism, due process, and the rule of law," the statement read.

According to the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group, at least 1,000 people have already been killed since May 10, 2016. 

From the day Duterte was elected up to 3:00 p.m. Friday, killed during police operations are at 598; Killed by unidentified assailants are 311 and there are 91 bodies found away from the crime scene. 

READ: MAP, CHARTS: The Death Toll of the War on Drugs

STILL CONFIDENT OF GOOD TIES

Meanwhile, the Embassy also echoed the comments of Elizabeth Trudeau, Director of the Office of Press Relations at U.S. Department of State, that Duterte's comments on Ambassador Philip Goldberg "were inappropriate and unacceptable."

Duterte took a swipe at Goldberg, calling the diplomat "bakla" during a speech before soldiers in Camp Lapu Lapu in Cebu City.

[embed link in 'took a swipe': https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/08/05/16/bwisit-ako-dyan-duterte-takes-swipe-at-us-envoy]

The U.S. State Department has asked the Philippine envoy in Washington to “clarify” Duterte’s “inappropriate” comments about its outgoing ambassador to Manila.

READ: US asks Philippines to 'clarify' Duterte remarks vs Goldberg

"The first, specifically on the remarks, we’ve seen those inappropriate comments made about Ambassador Goldberg. He’s a multi-time ambassador, one of our most senior US diplomats," Trudeau said.

Despite this and issues on extrajudicial killings, US believes its ties with the Philippines will remain strong. 

"Our partnership with the Philippines is based on a shared respect for rule of law, and we will continue to emphasize the importance of this fundamental democratic principle," it followed.

America's relationship with the Philippines, it underscored, extend from law enforcement to trade and development cooperation, and "counts on vibrant and undeniably strong people-to-people and societal ties."

"The U.S.-Philippine relationship, one of our most important in the Asia Pacific, has withstood the test of time," it said.