The U.S. has postponed an aid package worth up to $430 million to the Philippines due to “significant concerns” about civil liberties infringements under President Rodrigo Duterte.
Just days after Duterte admitted to personally killing people, the U.S. embassy in the Philippines said that board experts had deferred the renewal of the Millennium Challenge Grant for another five years.
The grant is open to countries that “demonstrate a commitment to just and democratic governance, investments in its people, and economic freedom,” and is aimed at assisting poverty-stricken areas, according to The Independent.
“This decision reflects the board’s significant concerns around rule of law and civil liberties in the Philippines,” the embassy said in a statement on Thursday.
“We will continue to monitor unfolding events in the Philippines, and [this] underscores that all country partners are expected to maintain eligibility, which includes not just a passing scorecard but also a demonstrated commitment to the rule of law, due process and respect for human rights,” the statement read. “The Board’s deferral of a vote on the Philippines re-selection is not a suspension or termination of the Philippines’ MCC compact eligibility.”
Duterte’s notorious war on drugs reached a death toll of more than 5,900 in less than six months, causing international uproar since he took office in June.
Police officers have raided the homes of more than 1.6 million suspected drug addicts in an effort to force users to surrender or extricate themselves from the drug trade.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation meanwhile has awarded grants to Burkina Faso, Sri Lanka and Tunisia. It added that it required more time to “further review” the Philippines’ eligibility for a second compact, according to the Manila Bulletin.
“By partnering with developing countries that meet rigorous standards for good governance, from fighting corruption to respecting the rights of women and the rule of law, we are maximizing our ability to fight poverty and transform people’s lives,” said MCC chief executive Dana Hyde.
The U.S. in October also planned to provide $180 million in assistance to the Philippines in fiscal year 2017 and routinely vet the military to ensure security units that violate human rights don’t receive aid, said State Department spokesman John Kirby, according to the Philippine Star.
Fiscal year 2017 is from Oct. 7, 2016 to Sept. 30, 2017, and the MCC board confirmed it may revisit its decision at its next meeting in March.