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Bayan to US: If rights abuse reports credible, why give Duterte military aid?

The militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan on Friday dared the United States to cut military aid to the Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte.

Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes made the remark after the US State Department said it found credible the reports of human rights abuses allegedly by Filipino security forces.

"If this is the case, why does the US continue to provide military aid to the Duterte regime? From 2016 to 2021, Philippines received some $600 million in military aid during the time of Duterte, despite the horrible human rights record of the administration," Reyes said in a statement.

"The glaring disregard for human rights in the Philippines must be addressed by cutting off US military aid to the Duterte regime," he added.

In its 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices released Tuesday, the US State Department said the US government had found reports on human rights abuses allegedly committed by Philippine security forces, including extrajudicial killings and torture, "credible."

“There were credible reports that members of the security forces committed numerous abuses,” the US State Department said

Among the "significant" human rights issues in the Philippines mentioned in the report were:

  • unlawful or arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings, by and on behalf of the government and nonstate actors;
  • reports of forced disappearance by and on behalf of the government and nonstate actors;
  • torture by and on behalf of the government and nonstate actors; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions;
  • arbitrary detention by and on behalf of the government and nonstate actors;
  • serious problems with the independence of the judiciary;
  • high-level and widespread government corruption;
  • serious government restrictions on or harassment of domestic human rights organizations

According to the US State Department, some charges in connection with these abuses were often “leveled for political reasons.”

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana questioned the report, saying it provided no details.

“But since the State Department seems so sure of its facts we challenge it to provide us with details so our [Commission on Human Rights], a constitutional and independent body, can verify them, and if proven accurate, the perpetrators will be punished,” Lorenzana said in a statement.

He pointed out that without data, the accusations were just innuendo and a witch-hunt, as he speculated that the US State Department might have been a victim of black propaganda.

Amid the criticism against the security forces, Lorenzana noted that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has been acknowledged as the most trusted agency of the government.

“Surely it did not earn this [trust] by abusing people,” he said. —NB, GMA News