‘We have nothing to hide’
MANILA, Philippines — The Arroyo government will not be pressured by the United States where a bill that seeks to strictly monitor how the Philippines is using US aid has been approved by a Senate committee, a Malacañang official said Wednesday.
The appropriations committee approved last week the Foreign Operations Spending Bill instructing the Secretary of State to monitor US military assistance to the Philippines so that this would not be “misused by units of the [Philippine] security forces…against civilians, including civilians who are members of political opposition parties and human rights groups.”
The bill’s approval followed a lobby by Filipino and American church groups that were protesting the spate of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the Arroyo administration had nothing to hide and reiterated government efforts to stop the spate of extrajudicial killings.
“Some people would look at it as a pressure on us, but we will not allow ourselves to be pressured because we have nothing to hide and the US government knows the measures that the Philippine government is undertaking, especially through the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] to address the extrajudicial killings,” Ermita said in his weekly news briefing in Malacañang.
Ermita said the action taken by the US was “a normal thing,” saying that during the term of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the US did the same thing through its foreign relation and appropriations committees.
Asked if the Philippine government would make any intervention, Ermita said this could be done through the embassy, which would reiterate to the US government that the Philippines was addressing the killings and to give the Americans “an accurate picture on the situation of the Philippines.”