The United States Government announced this week that it will withhold $2 million in military aid to the Philippines, in large part due to continued human rights abuses in the country and the failure of the Philippines to implement the recommendations of Philip Alston, John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law. Alston, who is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, carried out investigations in the Philippines in 2007, and issued a report in April 2008 which detailed the politically motivated killings of leftist activists there. 

With Alston’s report in mind, the U.S. Congress passed a bill in 2008 that stated that the dispersal of Foreign Military Financing aid to the Philippines would depend on whether the Government took steps to confront the human rights issues raised by Alston, U.S. churches, and Filipino-American groups. The specific conditions set by Congress included: the elimination of extrajudicial killings in the counter-insurgency program of the Philippine Government, the abolition of the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG), which helped create and fabricate charges against leftist activists, and the prosecution of human rights violators.

A year later, in May 2009, Alston reported to the U.N. Human Rights Council that the Philippine Government had not sufficiently moved to address the extrajudicial killings, and that many of his recommendations had not been implemented.

In October this year, Neri Colmenares, a representative of the Bayan Muna party in the Philippines, reported that in meeting with U.S. State Department officials he was told that the Philippines had not met these conditions, and that Congress would withhold the aid.

“Members of the U.S. Congress took the cue from the recommendations of the U.N. Special Rapporteur Philip Alston that the Philippine government must address the long-standing impunity for the killings, enforced disappearances, and other forms of human-rights violations, and that extrajudicial executions and other human-rights abuses do not form part of the policy of the military and the government,” said Colmenares.

Posted on November 6, 2009