August 8, 2022
MANILA, Philippines — The United States will “work collaboratively” with the Philippines to defend the rule of law and protect human rights and freedom of expression, according to visiting US State Secretary Antony Blinken.
“These values are critical to our alliance and they’re essential to building the future that the people of the Philippines want and deserve,” said Blinken, who arrived on Friday evening from Phnom Penh where he attended a ministerial meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
He made the remark in an online press briefing from Malacañang with Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo on Saturday after the US official met with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Manalo, for his part, affirmed that the Philippines and the United States agreed to maintain a dialogue on the subject of human rights after the US House of Representatives approved a measure that would block security assistance to the Philippine National Police (PNP) unless measures were taken to investigate human rights abuses by the police and punish those responsible.
Under the amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act for 2023, no aid could be granted to the PNP unless Blinken certifies that the Philippine government has made improvements in addressing human rights issues.
Commitment to dialogue
“Recognizing that democracy, whether in the Philippines or the United States, will always be a work in progress, we agreed to maintain open lines of communication. We’re discussing human rights issues that demonstrate our commitment to dialogue on this matter,” said Manalo, who had just been released from confinement after catching COVID-19.
He also bared the designation of Foreign Undersecretary Theresa Lazaro as the Philippine representative to the focal group preparing for the 2nd Summit for Democracy slated next year.
Hosted by US President Joe Biden, the US-led conference is participated by leaders from the government, private sector, and civil society to set an agenda for the advancement and renewal of democratic values and ideals around the world.