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U.S. denies aid package to Philippines over human rights concerns

The U.S. government's Millenium Challenge Corporation offered funding to Sri Lanka, Tunisia and Burkina Faso, but the contract with the Philippines was not renewed.

By Ed Adamczyk
U.S. denies aid package to Philippines over human rights concerns
Secretary of State John Kerry chairs a meeting of the Millennium Challenge Corporation in Washington in March. The department announced funding for Sri Lanka, Burkina Faso and Tunisia, but declined to renew an aid package to the Philippines over alleged civil rights abuses in the country. Photo courtesy of the U.S. State Department.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- The U.S. Embassy in the Philippines on Thursday said it deferred an aid package to the southeast asian country over concerns about its human rights record.

The grant, worth up to $430 million, was not renewed because of "concerns around rule of law and civil liabilities" under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Since his June inauguration, Duterte has embarked on a campaign against drug trafficking and use in his country, with more than 3,000 reported deaths of Filipinos at the hands of police and vigilantes in extrajudicial killings.

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The grant, called a five-year compact, is offered by the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a U.S. government foreign aid agency. Established in 2004 and offering funding separate from grants from the State Department and USAID, it values transparency, successful completion of prior economic improvements, and goals which include poverty reduction and sustainable economic growth. Aid from MCC is competitive between recipient countries.

"For a country to be selected as eligible for MCC assistance, it must demonstrate a commitment to just and democratic governance, investments in its people, and economic freedom," the MCC said Thursday in a statement. It added that applications for funding from the Philippines require "further review."

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Grants were awarded to Sri Lanka, Tunisia and Burkina Faso at the quarterly meeting of the MCC in Washington on Wednesday, the U.S. Embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka, said.

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