By Corina Oliquino i FilAm Star Correspondent

MANILA — Interior Sec. Eduardo Año announced on May 24 a $3 million counter-terrorism grant from non-profit Swiss foundation, Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF).

The funding is part of GCERF’s partnership with the Duterte administration to provide funding for community-level initiatives aimed at stopping extremist movements following the country’s inclusion in August 2018.

In a report by The Philippine Star, Año said the funding will focus on areas in Mindanao, mainland Luzon and Metro Manila, which the foundation notes as vulnerable to violent extremism.

“One of the priorities of DILG is the protection of peace and safety of Filipino communities through the prevention of violent extremism. Now having GCERF as a partner towards the achievement of this goal further empowers our locals in addressing this issue,” Año said in a statement, urging civil society organizations (CSOs) to express their interest to become principal recipients of the GCERF. “CSO-grantees are expected to propose activities that will build tolerance, community agency and positive social and economic alternatives that target the youth and youth support networks that are vulnerable to radicalization,” the report noted.

The funding grant is also in line with the government’s initiative in creating the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict which adopts a whole-of-nation approach in addressing the communist terrorism problem in the country.

Funding concerns
The GCERF funding follows the tightening of the US funding assistance through Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (ARIA) signed by the U.S. President.

The Philippines along with other countries within the Indo-Pacific region will receive U.S. funding assistance through Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (ARIA), signed by President Donald Trump on December 31, 2018 over human rights concerns.

“…but no funds will be given in support of the government’s anti-narcotics campaign unless certain human rights standards are satisfied,” a report by VERA Files noted.

In a report by Manila Bulletin, the bi-partisan initiative aims to provide $1.5 billion yearly in security assistance to America’s allies in the region in a bid to promote values of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

The law’s Section 408 is also calling on President Trump to “impose targeted financial penalties and visa bans sanctions on human rights violators and persons who engage in censorship activities of the news media in the region.”

It will also “terminate, suspend, otherwise alter economic assistance to any country that has engaged in serious violations of human rights or religious freedoms.”

The report also highlighted the legislation’s push for no counter-narcotics funding assistance to the Philippine National Police (PNP) “unless the Duterte administration implemented an anti-illegal drugs approach that is consistent with international human rights standards including investigating and prosecuting individuals who are credibly alleged to have ordered, committed, or covered up extra-judicial killings.”

In another report by BusinessWorld, according to a provision under Section 7403 of the bill, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo is directed to “determine and report” to US Congress if the Philippines has enforced a “counter-narcotics strategy that is consistent with international human rights standards.”

According to the US House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations in its bill on the 2019 State and Foreign Operations approved last June 20 for the US State Department, the Bill would not apply to funds for drug demand reduction or maritime programs of the Philippines.

Meanwhile, in a separate report related to the Bill, the appropriations committee also stated that extra-judicial killings eroded the confidence of the Philippine government’s commitment to “human rights, due process, and the rule of law.”

The US Congress is also asking the US Department of State to “strictly monitor United States assistance” to the Philippines.