Defense chief mulls seeking exception to foreign aid ban

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 24 2019 07:25 AM

MANILA — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Tuesday that he might ask President Rodrigo Duterte to exclude the military from his order for government agencies to reject loans and grants from 18 countries that backed an inquiry into the Philippine war on drugs. 

Under its modernization program for the military, the defense department purchases assets and gets donations or loans from some countries, Lorenzana told reporters. 

"'Yong grant, talagang hindi na tatanggap ng grants [ang defense department]. Pero 'yong loan... we might ask for exemption kung kinakailangang pa-exempt tayo sa directive ni Presidente," he said. 

(We will no longer accept grants. But with the loans, we might ask for an exemption from the President's directive.) 

Manila, he said, is in talks with a Cebu-based Australian firm to build 6 offshore patrol vessels for the Philippines. 

Australia is among 18 member-countries of the United Nations Human Rights Council, which in July approved Iceland's resolution seeking a comprehensive report into Duterte's 3-year anti-narcotics crackdown. 

The drive has killed some 6,600 drug suspects as of May, according to police data. This is roughly half of an estimate by New York-based Human Rights Watch that pegged the number of deaths at some 12,000, including those slain by police and unknown assassins supposedly inspired by the anti-drug campaign. 

About 8 in 10 Filipinos are satisfied with the drug war, according to an opinion poll released over the weekend. 

The Philippines can tap other bilateral partners outside of the 18 governments that support a UN investigation into the drug campaign, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Monday. 

With a report from Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News