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U.S. Official Seeks Halt to Abuses by Philippine Army

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From Reuters

A senior U.S. government official said today that the Philippine armed forces should be stopped from abusing the human rights of civilians.

Paul Wolfowitz, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific, was speaking to reporters after a three-day visit during which he met with President Ferdinand E. Marcos, other government leaders and opposition politicians.

He said many things were involved in countering a growing communist insurgency in the country.

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“Perhaps at the heart of it is the problem of controlling military abuse and, secondly, discipline and training,” he said.

“Clearly they cannot be effective in this kind of effort unless there is some discipline, very strict control over mistreatment of civilians.”

Met With Archbishop

Among those Wolfowitz met was the archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Jaime Sin, who as spiritual leader of the country’s Roman Catholics has been a vigorous critic of human rights abuses by the Marcos regime.

Wolfowitz, the second senior U.S. official to visit Manila in the last week, said there was “a clear understanding” of the need to introduce social and economic reforms to counter the threat posed by communist guerrilla insurgency.

In answer to questions, he said there had been “serious problems in recent years and particularly serious economic problems. . . . There was a shared view that one has to deal with root causes such as economic deprivation.”

Assistant Defense Secretary Richard Armitage, who also visited Manila, told reporters that economic assistance was as important as any military aid the United States might provide.

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