MANILA, Philippines — The United States has vowed to provide the Philippines $32 million to support the Duterte administration’s intensified law enforcement efforts.
Washington’s support for law enforcement activities was one of the topics discussed by President Rodrigo Duterte and visiting US State Secretary John Kerry during their meeting Wednesday in Malacañan.
“The US committed $32 million in training and services,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a press briefing.
It remains unclear as to what specific programs will be funded by the US. There is no information also on whether the training would cover maritime law enforcement in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) and other territorial waters.
Abella confirmed that Duterte had also briefed Kerry about his crackdown on drugs and crimes.
Asked if Kerry, who emphasized the need to uphold human rights in his previous engagements, was alarmed by the spate of killings in the country, Abella said: “There was no alarm that was mentioned there.”
“Although, President Duterte did mention about the way he has been handling the war against crime and especially the narcotic plague,” he added.
Pressed on what the US state secretary said about Duterte’s anti-crime and drug campaign, Abella replied: “He was listening very intently.”
A total of 239 drug suspects were killed in law enforcement operations as of July 22, data from the Philippine National Police showed. More than 120,000 drug pushers and users, meanwhile, have turned themselves over to authorities.
Human rights advocates are worried that the government’s crackdown on illegal drugs would result in extrajudicial killings and abusive practices.
In his first State of the Nation Address, Duterte said he would not stop the war against narcotics until the last drug personality is punished.
"There will be no let-up in this campaign. Double your efforts. Triple them, if need be. We will not stop until the last drug lord, the last financier and the last pusher have surrendered or put behind bars or below the ground if they so wish," the president said.
“To our police officers and other officials, do your job and you will have the unwavering support of the Office of the President. I will be with you all the way. Abuse your authority and there will be hell to pay,” he added.