FilAm activists hold protest as Kerry visits PH

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Dec. 19, 2013

LOS ANGELES – As US Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up his two-day visit to the Philippines, where he spoke about the strengthening of military ties as well as announced more aid, Filipino American activists held a protest outside of the US Federal Building.

“His visit is actually something we have to be really critical of because there’s been a lot of militarization of aid to the Philippines before the typhoon had hit and now it’s just intensifying,” Nikole Cababa of the International League of People’s Struggles said.

Kerry visited the Philippines for two days where he was able to survey some of the typhoon Yolanda-ravaged regions and pledged an additional $25 million in government aid.

Since typhoon Yolanda hit, the US government’s contribution is now at $87 million. While it can be considered a generous amount, it raises concerns as the Philippines continues to battle corruption through the pork scam.

“With that aid comes some strings,” Theresa Jaranilla, Regional coordinator of Bayan USA said. “A lot US troops have been sent along with that aid. It is the US military that has been giving out that aid but also, because of the recent pork barrel scandal, the way they money and relief goods have been handled by the Philippine government, we can’t be reassured that money is going to be used for the Filipino people based on the history of corruption.”

Kerry also talked about giving another $40 million in military aid to bolster the Philippine Coastguard and the Philippine National Police’s anti-terrorism efforts.

Activists say historically military aid has helped fund political killings and kidnappings.

“It’s a humongous amount of money that could go to social services, to education, to jobs,” Jaranilla said. “But it’s going to the Philippine military and the US military, and knowing that a lot of human rights violations are tied to what kind of aid is given to the Philippines.”

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