MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced yesterday that the United States government has revoked its restrictions on military aid to the Philippines. The agency clarified, however, that the $15 million in assistance withheld by the US over the last five years is not retroactive.
According to the DFA, the “withholding element” on US aid was terminated on account of the “improvement in the human rights situation in the Philippines.” The foreign affairs arm specified the arrest of retired major general and former lawmake Jovito Palparan in August 2014 as among these “improvements.”
Palparan was accused of executing suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA). He was also allegedly involved in the disappearances of activist Jonas Burgos and University of the Philippines students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño
Military aid amounting to $3 million yearly was withheld by US Congress because of the Philippine government’s inability to bring justice to cases involving unexplained killings in years past.
This year, US Congress will be releasing the $3 million, but not the $15 million cumulative amount, noted Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.
However, US Assistant Secretary for Defense David Shear said on Wednesday that the US will shell out a total of $40 million in military assistance to the Philippines for 2015.
“We will do anything we can to help the Philippines make the best use of our assistance,” Shear said at a press conference following the conclusion of the Fifth Philippines-United States Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in Manila.