Government hit over huge budget for ASEAN events

Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) - November 8, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — Militant groups yesterday criticized the Duterte administration for allocating P15.5 billion for the holding of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in the country next week.

Kadamay and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan said the multi-billion budget for an event to be attended by foreign dignitaries and heads of state is a clear waste of public fund.

“This huge amount of taxpayers’ money could have been utilized and rechanneled to provide the basic social services and needs of poor Filipino families,” they said in a joint statement.

They said the huge budget proved that the government is insensitive and impractical just to impress US President Donald Trump and other ASEAN leaders.

Kadamay spokesman Jimlin Penolio said homeless Filipinos are enraged because the government is spending lavishly for the preparations of the ASEAN meet that will not benefit the poor.

Kadamay members will join the three-day protest against Trump’s visit by setting up camp near the Don Chino Roces (Mendiola) bridge.

The Canada chapter of various human rights groups in the Philippines urged Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to raise the issue of alleged human rights violations under the Duterte administration during his visit in the country for the ASEAN Summit.

In their joint letter sent via electronic mail to Trudeau’s office in Ottawa, human rights groups said the prime minister must demonstrate its commitment to protect human rights defenders who, they said, are the usual target of harassment, abuses and killings under the Duterte administration.

Signatories to the letter were International Coalition on Human Rights in the Philippines – Canada, International Coalition on Human Rights in the Philippines – Toronto, Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights, Centre for Philippine Concerns/Centre d’appui aux Philippines, Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, Migrante – Canada, Migrante – Ontario, Migrante – British Columbia, Anakbayan-Canada, Gabriela – Ontario and Women of Diverse Origins/Femmes de Diverses origines.

The groups said that in the 13 months since Duterte assumed office on June 30, 2016, a total of 58 human rights defenders were summarily killed, 94 were newly imprisoned due to trumped up charges while 435 political prisoners remain in jail. – With Elizabeth Marcelo

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