THE United States-led Millennium Challenge Corp. was merely annoying the Duterte administration when it suspended the $433-million grant to the Philippines due to issues on the rule of law and civil liberties, Senate Majority Leader Tito Sotto said Sunday.
The MCC website said it was set up by the US government to promote economic growth and reduce poverty around the world through grants.
But countries may only qualify for the grant if they “demonstrate a commitment to just and democratic governance, investments in its people and economic freedom.”
The US government has strongly criticized Duterte’s vicious war on illegal drugs, which has left more than 5,000 suspected drug offenders dead.
Sought for his comment on the MCC’s deferment of its second grant to the Philippines, Sotto asked: “What did they give last year?”
“Did they give something during the last years? Did it enrich us? Did the poor become full? Did we gain something from it? Before I react, I would like to say this: Did they give something and who benefited?” Sotto told dwIZ radio.
He said he was not a Duterte apologist but he slammed the allegedly biased CNN reports on his war on drugs.
He said CNN reported the 6,000 people who died in the drug war but did not mention the 38,000 drug suspects arrested in 36,000 drug operations.
“They are merely maligning us because [the candidate] they wanted was defeated [in the last May elections],” Sotto said but did not elaborate.
He also slammed the local media for failing to report the explanations of Duterte’s spokesmen over his remarks that he killed three people when he was Davao City mayor.
“That’s an old story. They just want to destroy this government,” Sotto said.
Meanwhile, Senator Loren Legarda said the Duterte administration should reconsider its decision to impose inflexible conditions on its invitation to a fact-finding mission led by UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial Killings Agnes Callamard to visit the country and look into the spate of killings of suspected drug offenders.
“It is imperative that Dr. Callamard and her delegation be allowed to discharge their duties effectively and unhampered to show to the world that we are still a nation that observes the rule of law, honors the dignity of life, respects basic human rights and remains committed to the democratic values of transparency and accountability,” Legarda said.
She said the UN visit had become urgent because the basis of the war on drugs was in question.
“The President would often repeat that we should have no fear if we do nothing wrong,” Legarda said.
“The same can be said to him. If indeed his so-called war on drugs is pursued within the bounds of the law and international standards, then his administration should have nothing to be afraid of. As they often say, an innocent man has nothing to hide.”