'Very wild': Palace hits US lawmaker's bid to halt funding for PH military, police

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 24 2020 02:30 PM

Filipino and American Marines hold joint urban warfare training in Zambales "based on feedback from Philippine military forces" engaged in offensives against Islamic State-linked terrorists in Marawi City, June 2017. Photo courtesy of the US Embassy Manila

MANILA— Malacañang on Tuesday dismissed as "very wild" a US lawmaker's proposal to halt American aid to the Philippine military and police due to alleged human rights abuses, saying it believes Washington would put more value on its longstanding relationship with Manila.

The bill, known as the Philippine Human Rights Act (H.R. 8313), was introduced by Democratic Pennsylvania Rep. Susan Wild and seeks to “suspend the provision of security assistance to the Philippines until the Government of the Philippines has made certain reforms to the military and police forces, and for other purposes."

President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesperson Harry Roque poked fun at the lawmaker's surname, calling her proposal a "very wild suggestion" even as he noted that the Philippine government does not interfere in the affairs of other states.

"That's a very wild suggestion," Roque said during a Palace press briefing, noting that the bill still has a long way to go before it could affect the Philippines.

Roque expressed confidence that Washington, under the leadership of US President Donald Trump, would see the benefits of maintaining a healthy relationship with the Philippines.

"Kampante po kami na ang state department naman po at administration ni President Trump, dahil sa malapit na pakikipagkaibigan ng ating Presidente kay President Trump, ay nakikita ang halaga ng patuloy na kooperasyon sa pagitan ng Estados Unidos at Pilipinas," Roque said.

(We are confident that the State Department and the administration of President Trump, because of the close ties of our President with President Trump, sees the value in continuing the cooperation between the US and the Philippines.)

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, meanwhile, noted that whether the bill hurdles the US Congress or not, the Philippines should strengthen its own defense system.

"You must remember that the President has been consistently saying we have to stand on our own," Panelo told ANC on Thursday.

"We shouldn’t be relying on the support of other countries with respect to our security in our country," he added.

Wild's proposal comes after President Duterte signed into law the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, which has raised fears that it could be used to silence government critics.

The law is facing several challenges before the Supreme Court.