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MANILA, Philippines — At a time of diminishing U.S. development assistance funds, the Philippines still receives due increases from the American pie because Capitol Hill has been told that the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III is honest.
This was intimated this week by U.S. Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr. at the inaugural session of what is intended to be a regular media forum, dubbed as the “Kapihan sa Embahada.”
With him at the initial meeting on Thursday with foreign affairs reporters were political officer Joy Yamamoto, public affairs officer Robin Diallo, economics officer Brent Christensen, defense attaché Jack Sotherland, Jusmag officer Rocky Carter and JSOTF-P officer Tom Walsh.
Thomas referred to the high survey ratings for Aquino, which he said “shows that the Filipinos are happy with him. And the fact that the Philippines is a democracy, that’s what counts," he added.
”We are able to partner with President Aquino because of the fact that he has an honest administration. That is extremely important,” Thomas said, responding to this reporter’s question.
”We have been able to tell our Congress repeatedly that there’s an honest administration… which has allowed us at a time of diminishing funds to maintain and increase the assistance we’re giving,” Thomas continued.
He cited, without giving figures, increases under the U.S. Agency for International Development and Peace Corps development assistance, as well as in Veterans Affairs.
The honesty is “ensuring that the funds they (U.S. agencies through legislation at Capitol Hill) provide are going to the people to whom they are intended.”
Thomas noted, however, that because of prosecutorial slips on the part of the Philippines, particularly on allegations of extra-judicial killings or EJK, about US$ 3 million appropriated annually for the Philippine military has been withheld in the past three years.
He also noted that of the Southeast Asian partners of the U.S., the Philippines has been the largest recipient of military aid by as much as US$ 50 million annually in the past 10 years. “We always look for ways to assist within our means,” he said.
Whenever there’s an opportunity to sing the praises of his corrupt-free administration, Aquino repeatedly articulates that every cent allocated by foreign governments for the Philippines is well accounted for.
The latest one was in speeches during his visit to the Washington, D.C. and London and at the welcome ceremonies in May for the Board of Directors of the Asian Development Bank of the Philippines.