You’ve probably heard of the Philippines recently because of one reason: typhoons. A series of storms hit the country in September and October. At one point 80 percent of Manila, a city of 11.5 million people, was under water. Nearly one thousand people were killed in the worst storms in forty years.
Well, today Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is visiting the country. It’s part of a tour of Asia – she heads to Singapore tomorrow and joins Barack Obama on his first visit as President to China. Clinton met briefly with Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The visit is intended to focus on humanitarian aid and recovery.
However, Clinton also renewed US commitment to military aid in the country. Right now, there are an estimated 600 US troops in the Philippines and the Obama administration has requested more than $650 million in military aid for 2010. The US Government calls the country an important ally in the fight against terrorism.
I spoke with Liza Maza, a representative for the Gabriela Party in the Philippine Congress. She spoke about the effects on women of US military action in the region and the ongoing human rights violations under President Arroyo.
Listen to our conversation on FSRN here.