WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced legislation Thursday to restrict the exportation of certain defense articles by the United States to the Philippine National Police, support human rights and civil society organizations in the Republic of the Philippines, and report on sources of narcotics entering that country.
The Philippines Human Rights Accountability and Counternarcotics Act of 2017 notes that since the election of President Rodrigo Duterte in June of 2016 there has been a relentless campaign of violence against alleged drug offenders, where more than 7,000 people have been killed.
“President Duterte has unleashed a campaign of extrajudicial killings in his country that has horrified the international community. Mr. Duterte must handle criminal issues through the rule of law and allow drug addicts access to the public health services and treatment they deserve. In the absence of such actions, this legislation is clear in its support for the Filipino people and the importance of our alliance, but also the consequences if Mr. Duterte’s actions continue,” said Senator Cardin, ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee. “Senator Rubio and I recognize the Philippines is one of America’s oldest friends and allies, and that is why we are committed to the health and well-being of this relationship, and the fundamental human rights of the Filipino people.”
“America and the Philippines have an important and enduring alliance, which is why the growing number of extrajudicial killings as part of the Philippine National Police’s ‘war on drugs’ is deeply alarming,” said Senator Rubio, chairman of the Foreign Relations subcommittee on human rights and civilian security. “This is not the right way to conduct an anti-drug campaign, and our legislation reflects our sincere desire to work with the Philippines to support human rights, expose narcotics networks emanating from mainland China and other countries, and use a public health approach to responsibly counter the dangers that drugs pose to our societies.”
More about The Philippines Human Rights Accountability and Counternarcotics Act of 2017:
The bill reiterates the United States commitment and support for the Philippines, specifically regarding defense of the Philippines and continued support in counter-terrorism, maritime law enforcement, and maritime domain awareness. The bill also reaffirms United States policy to:
- Enhance the United States’ ability to provide rapid humanitarian assistance;
- Work with the Philippines to support civil society and a public health approach to substance abuse, drug addiction, and the illegal use of narcotics;
- Help modernize the armed forces of the Philippines, enhance cybersecurity cooperation, and deepen engagement between our militaries;
- Promote economic growth and development in the Philippines;
- Support the people of the Philippines in their efforts to strengthen the rule of law and anti-corruption measures, to further support effective judicial and legal institutions, and to promote human rights and civil society
The bill provides restrictions on certain defense items provided by the United States to the Philippine National Police, and provides a case-by-case waiver on the restrictions for the President.
The bill authorizes $50 million to the Department of State and USAID to promote a public health approach to substance abuse and to support Filipino defenders of human rights, assist victims of human rights violations, respond to human rights emergencies, and promote and encourage the rule of law, including the support for nongovernmental organizations in the Philippines.
The bill also includes instructions for reports on:
- Foreign assistance to the Philippine National Police or entities associated with the Philippine National Police;
- Sources of narcotics and precursor chemicals to produce narcotics;
- United States military assistance, cooperation, and security assistance and arms transfers used by the Philippine National Police and its associated entities to commit gross violations of human rights or violate laws applicable to military or security assistance related to human rights; and
- Partner capacity building assistance to the Philippines to enhance maritime capabilities, respond to emerging threats, and maintain freedom of operations in international waters and airspace in the Asia-Pacific maritime domains, and to make recommendations for additional foreign military sales, foreign military financing, and international military education and training to be made available to the Philippines.