The US moved to withhold it’s poverty aid to the Philippines following President Rodrigo Duterte’s claims on 12 December that he personally hunted for suspects to kill in his bloody war on drugs.
Citing concerns regarding “rule of law” and “civil liberties”, a $434m five-year poverty reduction program provided by the US government that expired in May 2016 will not be renewed for the time being.
One day after the US government’s announcement on 15 December, Duterte confirmed to the BBC that he shot dead three men while mayor of Davao.
“And I’d go around in Davao with a motorcycle, with a big bike around, and I would just patrol the streets, looking for trouble. I was really looking for a confrontation so I could kill.”
“I killed about three of them… I don’t know how many bullets from my gun went inside their bodies. It happened and I cannot lie about it.”
Philippine Senator Leila de Lima, stated that Duterte should be impeached after he admitted to personally killing drug suspects.
Other Manila government officials shrugged off Dutere’s comments, and dismissed Washington’s decision to discontinue funding as inconsequential as Philippines continues courting some of Washington’s biggest rivals, most notably China.
So what additional foreign aid does The Philippines stand to lose from the US in addition to the $434m five-year poverty reduction program?
The Philippines was one of the pillars of the Obama Administration’s pivot to Asia in 2011. As a result, in addition to funding for proverty reduction, military assistance and foreign aid sent to Manila from Washington in recent years has been substantial. In 2015, the Philippines received approximately $175 million in U.S. development assistance, and a total of $50 million in foreign military financing.
In early 2016, it was announced that The Philippines will get its biggest US aid package in 15 years to help the country beef up its ill-equipped military. The Philippine Ambassador to the United States, Jose Cuisia, said that The Philippines will get more than US$120 million in military aid 2016, almost double the amount Washington normally extends each year.
Of the total amount, US$79 million will be traditional military aid, with an additional US$42 million coming from the new US Southeast Asia Maritime Initiative, a maritime capacity-building program launched by US Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
Additionally, The Philippines has purchased nearly $1 billion worth of military equipment from the US since 2012 including two US Coast Guard cutters, and 12 FA-50 light fighter jets.
Secretary Carter also announced in April another military deal that gave the U.S. access to five Philippine military bases to house American forces that will rotate in and out of the country for training and other missions. The bases included Antonio Bautista Air Base, Basa Air Base, Fort Magsaysay, Lumbia Air Base, and Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base.
During a speech in Singapore on Friday 16 December, Duterte addressed the US decision to withhold humanitarian aid to his country, repeating his call for US President Barack Obama to “go to hell”. He then addressed America saying, “you lived off the fat of my land…do not bull**** me.”