September 8, 2017 8:40 pm JST

US offers $2m for Philippines drug war

Washington, Beijing step up aid for Manila in quest for influence

CLIFF VENZON, Nikkei staff writer

Government forces display illegal drugs and the ISIS flag recovered by troops during the conflict in Marawi, Philippines on June 19. © Reuters

MANILA -- The U.S. on Friday pledged 102 million pesos ($2 million) for the Philippines' fight against illegal drugs, the latest move in Washington's efforts to keep its long-time ally within its diplomatic fold.

The U.S. Embassy in Manila said the funds -- committed under the existing Letter of Agreement on Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement -- will be spent on drug reduction programs that are focused on public health and community-based interventions.

The donation comes despite at least two U.S. lawmakers joining global condemnation of President Rodrigo Duterte's brutal war on the narcotics trade, which has led to the deaths of thousands of suspected drug users and peddlers within a year.

Friday's pledge is the second from the U.S. this week. On Tuesday, Washington said it would donate 730 million pesos to help the Philippines rehabilitate the southern city of Marawi, which has been ravaged by ongoing military operations to wipe out militants aligned with Islamic State.

The U.S., under President Donald Trump, is stepping up support for the Duterte government, which had pivoted to China after former U.S. President Barack Obama criticized the anti-narcotics crackdown.

China in June offered $7.3 million worth of weapons to help the Philippines combat terrorism and illegal drugs. This comes on top of at least $24 billion in credit and investments lines pledged by Chinese companies last year, when Duterte moved to repair diplomatic ties with Beijing that had been damaged by the maritime dispute in the South China Sea. 

 

 

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