UCA News

Philippines

US provides additional Covid-19 aid to Philippines

Washington sets aside a recent spat to offer support for its longtime ally

Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
US provides additional Covid-19 aid to Philippines

Protesters hold placards at a protest against US-Philippine military exercises on Feb. 21. (Photo: Basilio Sepe/AFP)

Share this article :
The US embassy in the Philippines has confirmed that Washington will give an additional 298 million pesos (US$5.9 million) in aid to Manila to fund the country’s fight against Covid-19.

The humanitarian assistance follows a telephone call between the leaders of the two countries last month.

President Rodrigo Duterte and US President Donald Trump spoke to discuss bilateral cooperation on how to defeat the novel coronavirus.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque told reporters that the call was between “longtime allies to defeat the [coronavirus] pandemic, save lives and restore global economic strength.”

The US had previously given US$4 million to pay for personal protective equipment to help prevent Filipino health workers from being infected by the virus.

Duterte’s acceptance of US aid follows a period of tension between the countries with the Philippine president threatening to end a 20-year-old military agreement with the US earlier this year.

He had threatened to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) after the White House canceled the visa of former police chief, now Senator Ronaldo dela Rosa, due to alleged human rights violations. Dela Rosa is known to be a longtime ally of Duterte.

“If you do not do the correction [reinstate the visa], I will terminate the basis of the Visiting Forces Agreement. I will finish that son of a bitch,” Duterte said in a speech in January.

The VFA has been seen as vital in cracking down on terrorism by providing Philippine authorities with intelligence and surveillance reports such as when Islamic militants tried to establish a caliphate by occupying the city of Marawi in the southern Philippines in 2017.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has released a statement in support of ABS-CBN, the country’s biggest broadcasting network.

The bishops’ conference described the network’s closure as a loss of “one of the country’s major sources of information and entertainment, which is crucial to the people in this present [pandemic] situation.”

“These days our people truly need more than ever broadcast services that would bring them much-needed information in this time of crisis.”

As of May 7, the Philippines had recorded 10,343 Covid-19 cases with 685 deaths, according to government figures.

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
YOUR DAILY
NEWSLETTER
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
 
Support UCA News

William J. Grimm, MM

Publisher

Union of Catholic Asian News

"As Pope Francis has said, we live not so much in an era of change as in a change of era. That is especially true in Asia and for the churches of Asia. UCA News is the dedicated, Asia-wide news and information service for the Church in Asia and we need your help to maintain the service."