Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (File photo)
MANILA – Pennsylvania Rep. Susan Wild’s introduction of a bill seeking to suspend the US security assistance to the Philippines over alleged human rights violations is a “very wild suggestion”, Malacañang said Thursday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this statement after the US lawmaker filed the measure before the US Congress in response to the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, which she said attacks activists and political opponents of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Roque said the Palace won’t meddle with affairs of sovereign countries such as the US but expressed confidence that the administration of US President Donald Trump recognizes the importance of maintaining security and defense cooperation between the US and the Philippines.
“Kampante nga tayo na sa tingin ko, kinikilala naman ng Estados Unidos ang halaga ng Pilipinas sa pagiging partner niya pagdating din sa mga usaping national security ng Estados Unidos mismo (I am confident, I think, that the US recognizes the importance of being a partner of the Philippines when it comes to matters concerning national Security of the US),” Roque said in a virtual Palace briefing.
He also pointed out that Duterte and Trump share close ties.
“Dahil sa malapit na pagkakaibigan ng ating Presidente kay President Trump ay nakikita ang halaga ng patuloy na kooperasyon sa parte po ng Estados Unidas at ng Pilipinas (Because of the friendship between our President with President Trump, they will see the importance of continued cooperation between the US and Philippines),” he added.
The Philippines is the only US treaty ally bordering the South China Sea.
According to Roque, a lawmaker could introduce any bill, but the chances of its passage are slim.
“Kahit sino naman pong kongresista pupuwedeng maghain ng panukalang batas pero ang chances na yang panukalang batas po na maisabatas ay napakaliit po (Any solon can file a proposed law but the chances are slim that it would be signed into law),” he said.
Roque said he would leave it to the US Congress to believe in Wild’s “personal opinion”.
“Hayaan na po natin gumulong ang proseso sa Estados Unidos pero iisa lang po ‘yan out of ilang hundreds of congressmen and women ang nasa US Congress (Let the process in the US run its course but it’s only one of hundreds of congressmen and women in the US Congress),” he said.
Roque said the measure would also need the approval of the US Senate for concurrence.
“Kinakailangan aprubahan pa rin po ‘yan ng Senado dahil kapareho naman ng sistema ng America at Pilipinas pagdating sa legislation (It would still need approval of the Senate because the legislative system in the America and the Philippines is similar),” he said.
In the Philippines, around 30 petitions have been filed questioning the legality of the Anti-Terrorism law including those filed by former government officials, human rights advocates, and religious groups.
Malacañang has repeatedly defended the law, saying it has enough safeguards against possible abuses. (PNA)