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US spends less on Philippines despite being allies - think tank.

Despite being long-time allies, the United States considerably spends less on the Philippines in terms of foreign assistance, based on data released by a Washington-based policy research center.

From 2002 to 2017, the US spent $3.9 billion in foreign assistance obligation with heavy counterterrorism component, according to the Stimson Center's study titled "Counterterrorism Spending: Protecting America While Promoting Efficiencies and Accountability."

The study released a few days ago showed that Washington has spent about $2.8 trillion on counterterrorism efforts since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks

Since 2002, the US provided the most assistance to Afghanistan which amounts to $97.8 million. In 2017, Washington spent $4.7 million in assistance to Afghanistan for its war against the Taliban, which was triggered by the September 11 attack.

It was only in 2012 that the US and Afghanistan became allies when former President Barack Obama declared the latter a major non-North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally.

Following Afganistan, the US spent the most on foreign assistance obligation to Iraq and Pakistan amounting to $61.8 billion and $16.4 billion in the same time period. Pakistan has been a US ally since 2004 while Iraq is not.

Washington's total counterterrorism assistance to the Philippines in the past 15 years is still less than its total contribution to the Afghanistan war in 2017 alone.

In 2017, the US provided around $100 million worth of military assistance to the Philippines, according to the Stimson Study.

The US, however, was among the first countries to provide military assistance to the Philippines when ISIS-inspired local terrorists took hold of Marawi City.

Washington spent more on other countries that are not its allies including Syria, Indonesia, Kenya, Bangladesh, Somalia and Nigeria.

The study also found that not all of Washington's spending on counterterrorism was necessary.

The Stimson Center said that the study "found a variety of weaknesses in definitions, tracking, and consistencies that limit accuracy and contribute to a lack of transparency regarding the current data. These weaknesses make it difficult to evaluate whether [counterterrorism] spending has been effective."

The study also showed that counterterrorism spending has risen as a share of total spending in the US. It increased from less than 2 percent in 2001, to 22 percent in 2008 and then declined to under 15 percent in 2017.

The report noted that the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) stopped its annual financial report on homeland security under the Trump administration.

'We're moving in the wrong direction,' Mike McCord, one of the authors of the Stimson Center report, told the Wall Street Journal.

The think tank suggested that the US Congress create a clear and transparent counterterrorism funding report. This would include requiring the OMB to compile data and analyze US homeland security spending in its annual budget request.

"Congress should pass new legislation that requires it to vote separately to approve spending that is designated as war-related emergency or wartime overseas contingency operations spending before those funds can be obligated," one of the recommendations read.

The Stimson Center report was issued to tally the total counterterrorism spending of the US since the September 11 attacks to examine gaps in the understanding of spending.

"The United States currently lacks an accurate accounting of how much it has spent on the fight against terrorism," the Stimson Center said.
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Publication:Philippines Star (Manila, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9AFGH
Date:May 18, 2018
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