By Macon Araneta
It would be wise for United States legislators to do their research first before they act on the new measure filed in the US House of Representatives which seeks to stop American help to the Philippine military and police until reforms are made to address alleged human rights violations, said Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go.
While he respects the legislative processes of the US, being another sovereign country, Go cited the need for a thorough study on measures that will affect lives of not only US citizens but 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.
In this way, he said US legislators can feel the genuine democracy in the country. He said they would also learn what the government has been doing to protect the interest, welfare, and lives of Filipinos.
Nevertheless, Go said he believes that President Rodrigo Duterte and President Donald Trump, apart from their friendship, both recognize the importance of close and strong cooperation in combatting cross-border crimes and threats to both our people, like terrorism.
“We continue to uphold our independent foreign policy — being a friend to all and enemy to none,” assured Go.
Democratic Pennsylvania Rep. Susan Wild had earlier introduced Human Rights Act (H.R. 8313), which seeks to “suspend the provision of security assistance to the Philippines until the government of the Philippines has made certain reforms to the military and police forces, and for other purposes. This was supported by 23 other Democrat legislators.
The official US Congress website has yet to post a copy of the bill but according to the website of Filipino-Americans advocating for 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.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson said the US Congress is within its right to file any legislative measure under any circumstances. Lacson said it will have to go through first reading and referral, committee hearings and floor debates.
If adopted and approved, US bill H.R. 8313 will not only be the Philippines’ loss but the US’ as well, he said.
“Since the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) is still existing, they may have to resolve that as a legal issue in their deliberations,” said Lacson.
“That is one legal issue that they will have to consider in their deliberations.”
Sought for his comment in the same issue, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said, “then we should reconsider the VFA if they pass that.”