Rights group questions $434-M US grant to RP

AS PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III flies off to the United States on official visit, the alliance of human rights groups in the Philippines, KARAPATAN,

A HUMAN rights watchdog yesterday criticized the $434-million grant by the Millenium Challenge Corp. (MCC) as a “violation of its own selection criteria” and “encourages governments allied with the US to continue human rights violations as what the US did in the Philippines.”

Karapatan issued the statement on the eve of commemorating the declaration of Martial Law.  During the Marcos dictatorship, the government received substantial support from the United States.

Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of Karapatan, said the MCC itself stipulated in the selection criteria that, “for a country to be selected as eligible for an MCC assistance program, it must demonstrate a commitment to policies that promote political and economic freedom, investments in education and health, the sustainable use of natural resources, control of corruption, and respect for civil liberties and the rule of law.”

“Clearly, having more than a thousand victims of extra-judicial killings, with 13 under the new administration in just barely three months, more than 200 victims of enforced disappearances, and 380 political prisoners languishing in jails and detention centers throughout the country with trumped-up charges do not show political freedom and respect for civil liberties and, therefore, a violation of the MCC’s own selection criteria,” Enriquez said.

“US government support to the Philippines, after direct colonization, has always been detrimental to the country.  This time, we fear that the funds would only encourage governments allied with the US to continue human rights violations as what is happening in the Philippines,” Enriquez added.   D’Jay Lazaro

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