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Solons hit Trump for $2-M pledge for PH’s war on drugs

ONE-ON-ONE President Duterte and US President Donald Trump discuss bilateral issues, except human rights, during their meeting at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City. —JOAN BONDOC

Lawmakers of the Makabayan bloc on Thursday lambasted US President Donald Trump’s $2-million pledge for “drug demand reduction programs” in the Philippines, saying this would only lead to more human rights violations under the Duterte administration’s antidrug campaign.

ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio said the pledge would violate the United States’ own federal law prohibiting the grant of foreign aid to countries with records of human rights violations.

“The human rights violations of the police and the military under President Duterte are very clear. It is very clear that US federal law will be violated if (the US government) gives aid,” Tinio said in a press briefing.

Paragraph 2151n of Title 22, Chapter 32, of the US Code 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 said Trump’s pledge, briefly disclosed in a White House statement dated Nov. 15, could “only result (in) further violation of human rights.”

Zarate said this showed United States’ “hypocrisy” in its grant of foreign assistance, even as the Philippine government allegedly committed human rights violations not only in its bloody “war on drugs,” but also in quelling political dissent.

“It’s not just the [Philippine] government that should be held accountable. The American government should be held accountable, too, for propping up regimes that violate human rights,” Zarate said.

Tinio added that Trump did not address the Philippines’ “human rights issues,” or even the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, during the recently concluded Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit.

This showed the United States’ greater interest in “maintaining its military hegemony in the Asia-Pacific,” said Tinio.

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