Sunday, July 17, 2011

US to increase military aid to Philippines

As if this coast guard cutter wasn't enough, the US government is set to send over a whole lot more outdated gas-guzzling hand-me-downs.
Although it has not yet officially done so, the US congress is allegedly committed to increasing "defense and security assistance" to the Philippines. Very committed. They're actually offering $30 billion, which is double the amount requested by the White House.
“We welcome US engagement with our country because we share the same values of democracy, freedom and rule of law.”
-Phillipine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo

That's actually a true statement.
This one wasn't though.
“The Philippine government remains fully committed and determined to address issues in relation to the protection and promotion of human rights,” he said.
-Philippine Star

Obama has apparently asked Congress to drop 3 conditions on the $30 billion assistance package. All 3 conditions have to do with human rights:
1)take human rights violations seriously
2)hold the military accountable for human rights violations
3)don't let the military commit human rights violations
Maybe they were a bit redundant, but Obama wants them ALL gone. Clearly, both governments do share the same views on the value of democracy, freedom and rule of law.
Conveniently coincidentally, the Philippines allegedly has beef with China over the Spratly issue, and the Abu Sayyaf have allegedly kidnapped two more Fil-Ams. And now the US Congress is rewarding a military with a horrible human rights track record with $30 billion for next year, but Obama doesn't want them to have to improve that track record. In fact, Philippine government forces violated a ceasefire amidst peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front just last week.
Is the increased aid for focusing on fighting the Abu Sayyaf and China? Well, the Philippine military doesn't stand a chance against China (especially not with old coast guard cutters), and their track record against the Abu Sayaff hasn't been much better either.
However, a lot of excess inventory can be liquidated (i.e. cut from the budget) and a lot of exercises could be exercised with $30 billion.

And btw, Hillary is scheduled to visit Manila in mid-November. Can't wait.