US moves aid away from Duterte's drug war

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
US moves aid away from Duterte's drug war
"We remain deeply concerned by reports of extrajudicial killings by or at the behest of government authorities in the Philippines," US Department of State spokesperson John Kirby said in a press briefing.
US Department of Defense / Released

Assistance to shift to maritime security

MANILA, Philippines — The American government has shifted away its assistance away from law enforcement since the start of President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-narcotics campaign, a United States (US) Department of State official said.

US Department of State spokesperson John Kirby stressed that the American government remains deeply concerned by reports of extrajudicial killings by government authorities in the Philippines.

"Since the start of the drug campaign, our law enforcement assistance has been refocused away from narcotics control to supporting maritime security efforts and to providing human rights training to the Philippine National Police," Kirby said in a press briefing Monday.

Kirby noted that the US-funded training of the Philippine National Police has historically aimed to transform it into a modern, sustainable and democratic police force.

The police force should be able to provide internal security in difficult conditions while demonstrating respect for democratic principles and human rights.

Following reports of extrajudicial killings of drug suspects in the Philippines, the US decided to refocus its assistance to the country.

"We decided the prudent thing to do was to refocus the way that assistance was being spent," Kirby said.

Kirby further noted that the American government's assistance programs seek to expand Philippine capacity to "conduct effective, lawful investigations and professionalizes the criminal justice system so that it is more accountable, transparent, effective, and just.

An American senator had earlier warned that the US government may reconsider its assistance to the Philippines if the extrajudicial killings continue in the country.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, author of the Leahy Law, said that the spate of summary executions and extrajudicial killings as a result of Duterte's war against drugs lack respect for international human rights commitments.

"It may be necessary to consider further conditions on assistance to the Duterte government to ensure that US taxpayer funds are properly spent and until that government demonstrates a commitment to the rule of law," Leahy said.

The Leahy Law prohibits the US Department of State and Department of Defense from providing assistance to foreign military units that violate human rights. — Graphics by Jonathan Asuncion

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