By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang said President Duterte has earned the trust of United States (US) President Donald Trump after the White House announced it was pouring in $101.3 million (about P5.1 billion) to support the initiatives of the Duterte administration.
In a statement issued Wednesday upon Trump’s return, the White House said the US government pledged the amount to support the rehabilitation of Marawi City, the country’s counter-terrorism efforts, and the administration’s drug war.
According to the White House statement, of the $101.3 million, $14.3 million (P750 million) will be for the rehabilitation of Marawi City; $85 million for counter terrorism-related equipments, training and support for the Armed Forces; and $2 million (roughly P101 million) to support the administration’s drug war.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said it would have been better if Trump made the announcement during his three-day stay in the country so President Duterte could have shown the country’s appreciation immediately.
“I wish President Trump had said that during their bilateral meeting so President Duterte would be happier,” Roque added during yesterday’s Palace briefing.
The President held a bilateral meeting with Trump Monday on the sidelines of the 31st Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Pasay City.
Support drug campaign
Malacañang said Trump did not bring up the issue of human rights violations in relation to the country’s campaign against illegal drugs as Duterte discussed at length his drug campaign with his US counterpart.
“That proves without doubt that the US President supports the war on drugs. Why would he otherwise give $2 million to this cause if he thinks it’s not being implemented correctly?” Roque he added.
But the financial support does not sit well with opposition members of Congress.
ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tiniowarned that the financial help will violate US federal laws citing Paragraph 2151n of Title 22, Chapter 32 of the United States Code which prohibits the grant of assistance to “the government of any country which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate also warned that the Philippines should brace for more human rights violations as soon as the US money starts pouring in.
It was evident that Duterte and Trump bonded well the second time they met at the ASEAN Summit (the first was during the APEC in Vietnam) even calling Duterte by his first name during the ASEAN-US Commemorative Summit Monday.
Before Trump left the country, he told Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to relay to the President that he enjoyed his stay in the Philippines and that he liked his Filipino counterpart.
“Thank you very much, I had a great time and tell Rodrigo I like him very much,”Medialdea quoted Trump as saying before boarding Air Force One Tuesday.
Roque had earlier said the two leaders seemed to enjoy each other’s company with a common dislike for Trump’s predecessor.
“There were indeed sour points due to the comments made by former US President Obama. President Trump addressed this by assuring that he is a friend of the Duterte administration since he won the US elections,” Roque had said. (With a report from Ben R. Rosario)