Philippine Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana said Friday that the country can live without U.S. aid signaling a shift in the Philippines’ reliance on the United States. The statement follows President Rodrigo Duterte’s announcement telling the U.S. and the European Union to withdraw aid if they were unhappy with his war on drugs campaign.
“I think we can live without [that] aid. Our Congress is actually giving us money now for the procurement of equipment. I believe they will give us more if we don't have a source of other funds,” Lorenzana reportedly said.
Duterte said Thursday that the EU and U.S. can “go ahead” and suspend financial aid to the country.
“Go away, bring your money to somewhere else. We will survive as a nation,” Duterte reportedly said. "How do you look at us, mendicants? We will survive. Even if we'll go through hardships, we will survive. But we will never, never compromise our dignity. If you think it is high time for you guys to withdraw your assistance, go ahead, we will not beg for it.”
The Philippines received $236 million financial aid from the U.S. in 2015 and is to receive $188 million in 2017, according to U.S. data. The EU provides an estimated $65 million annually to the country. However, Duterte’s brutal war on drugs, which has claimed at least 3,680 lives since he came to power in June, has received criticism from world leaders and international institutions.
During an official visit to Vietnam last week, Duterte announced that he would be “happy to slaughter” drug users just like Nazi leader Adolf Hitler killed millions of Jews.