Philippines defends rights record over US military aid

It is quite unlikely that the US will hold back any substantial military aid. At most they might hold back some as a symbol of disatisfaction on human rights issues. The official certainly has a point about the US human rights record in Guantanamo. However, Blancaflor failed to mention that the filipinos were withdrawn from Iraq ages ago!
Anyway the US is right in this case, the record of the Philippines on human rights can hardly stand scrutiny, especially the armed forces. Arroyo promoted a general who had a horrible human rights record so the human rights office referred to must be packed with Arroyo supporters!

Philippines defends rights record over US military aid: official

Friday, December 21, 2007
MANILA: The Philippines said on Thursday its human rights record “can stand up” to global scrutiny amid reports the US government may hold back on military assistance. Ricardo Blancaflor, who was named as head of a recently created task force to solve political killings, said the Philippines only suffered from bad perceptions carried by the media.

“Our human rights record can stand up to the rest of the world,” Blancaflor said on local television. He said he hoped US legislators would not apply “double standards” in approving military aid for the Philippines, stressing that Manila was closely following cases of human rights abuses and political killings.

Blancaflor noted that Manila did not attach conditions when Washington requested a Philippine contingent to serve in the Iraq war. “We did not tell the Americans, ‘You know we’re going to join you in Iraq provided you don’t do what you are doing in Guantanamo Bay or in Abu Ghraib prison,” Blancaflor said, referring to US detention centres in Cuba and Iraq where human rights abuses against detainees have been documented.

Blancaflor’s comments came after news reports that US legislators had agreed to slightly increase military funding for Manila from $29.7 million this year to 30 million dollars in 2008. But part of the increase was contingent on the Philippines improving its rights record.

US special envoy Philip Alston earlier this month released a damning report blaming the Philippine military for many unsolved killings. His report said soldiers were “systematically hunting down” leaders of left-wing groups as part of its anti-insurgency campaign.

Among those killed, he said, were judges, lawyers, anti-government activists, trade union activists and journalists. Local rights group Kaparatan said the number of extra-judicial killings had dropped to 68 this year from 209 in 2006.

It added that since President Gloria Arroyo came to power in January 2001 up to October this year, a total of 887 killings were reported. Blancaflor defended the military, saying they were the only defence organisation in the world where officers can only be promoted if cleared by a human rights office.


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