We are persuaded to agree with the piece of advice of Senator Christopher Go pitched towards the US House of Representatives to do their research, and properly, before acting on a proposed bill which seeks to stop American help to the Philippine military and police until reforms are made to address alleged human rights violations.
Go, an administration ally, is out-and-out correct when he said that while he respected the legislative processes of the United States, being another sovereign country, there is indeed the need for an in-depth research on measures that would affect lives not only of their citizens but of the rest of the world.
“If they want to know the real situation, they are welcome to visit and talk to an ordinary Filipino,” said Go, who added “I believe that President Duterte and President Trump, apart from their friendship, both recognize the importance of close and strong cooperation in combatting cross-border crimes and threats to both our peoples, like terrorism.”
By visiting the Philippines, which would likely reap bonus points for those standing in the November 2020 polls in the United States, the US legislators could feel, for crying out loud, the genuine democracy the Philippines has.
Also, the well-meaning visiting American legislators would also learn what this independent government has been doing to protect the interest, welfare and lives of the 112 million Filipinos.
As a lawmaker himself, Go said he respects the legislative processes of the United States and recognizes the prerogative of Democratic Rep. Susan Wild of Pennsylvania to file a measure that seeks to suspend the US government’s military assistance to the Philippines over allegations of human rights abuses in the country.
“As a legislator myself, I respect the legislative processes of another sovereign country, in the same manner that we expect others to respect ours…we continue to uphold our independent foreign policy, being friend to all and enemy to none” – well-built words but never wild nor savage from Go.
Go said US lawmakers are welcome to visit the Philippines to look into the real situation of democracy in the country and make a firsthand assessment. Or they can easily ask their people at the US Embassy in Manila to give them back home some unprejudiced assessment of the situation in the Philippines, not the preferential and influenced opinion of the countable Philippine government’s critics.
The 63-year-old Democratic Rep. Susan Ellis Wild, who represents the 7th congressional district of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania (population nearly 13 million or roughly the daytime population of Metro Manila), introduced a bill, supported by 23 other Democrat legislators, in the US Congress seeking to suspend American security assistance to the Philippines until the administration of President Duterte instituted reforms in the military and police to end human rights abuses.
In her sponsorship speech Sept. 17, Wild sought the enactment of her proposed Philippine Human Rights Act, which seeks to halt US assistance for the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, which she says are responsible for committing human rights abuses against labor organizers, workers and political opposition.
We also agree with Senator Panfilo Lacson, former chief of the Philippine National Police, that if Wild’s proposed measure would be adopted and approved, it would not only be the loss of the Philippines but of the United States as well because a major part of the security assistance extended to the Philippines is used to combat terrorism, which knows no borders and timing.
“And since the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement is still existing, they may have to resolve that as a legal issue in their deliberations,” Lacson said.
It would be interesting what the official US Congress website would post as regards a copy of the bill but according to the website of Filipino-Americans advocating its passage, the bill seeks to withhold assistance “until such time as human rights violations by Philippine security forces cease and the responsible state forces are held accountable.”
Introducing the bill on the floor of the US House of Representatives, Wild referred to the recent passage of an anti-terrorism measure in the Philippines as one of the bases for pushing for the US bill.
President Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque gave little weight to the bill, expressing positiveness that security ties between Manila and Washington remained strong.
“Across the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal regime is targeting labor organizers, workers, and political opponents – which is why I introduced the Philippine Human Rights Act, which would block US funding until they prove these assaults on human rights have ended,” Wild posted on her Twitter account.
We say, research, your honor Susan Wild, research.
As her countryman Neil Armstrong once said: “In much of society, research means to investigate something you do not know or understand.”
Stuffed with sagacity, Armstrong’s line.