The Philippine ambassador to the U.S. said Tuesday morning his country is in need of aid to quell an uprising of terrorist groups.
Ambassador Willy Gaa was the featured speaker for the GW Homeland Security Policy Institute’s Ambassadors Roundtable series held in the Marvin Center. Retired General of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Victor Corpuz spoke as well.
“We have to take a holistic approach to this situation, using soft power rather then hard power,” Gaa said, indicating he wants the U.S. to give aid rather than military assistance.
Issues with terrorist uprisings stem from the lack of infrastructure in the Philippines, Gaa said, suggesting that structural reform as well as education could help stop the problem at its roots.
Gaa said that implementing reform in the country will be difficult, however, as only about 100 families control the wealth in the Philippines. The rest of the population lives in poverty.
During George W. Bush’s presidency, the country was guaranteed $23 million to educate the Filipino population, Gaa said.
When the Philippines withdrew their forces from the war in Iraq, the Bush administration dropped the deal.
Both leaders said they hope the U.S. will restart the aid program the Bush administration spearheaded, adding they would use the money for education and roads.
“If the American government were to provide hard power, it would be another Vietnam,” Corpuz said.
Corpuz said that much of the country’s terrorism is located in the southern region of the Philippines. It is the cause of social and economic issues.
He said education should be the country’s main goal, because it would give the impoverished population of the country the chance to gain political power.
“Economic power gets political power,” Corpuz said.
The event was moderated by Associate Vice President Frank J. Cilluffo, who heads the HSPI’s efforts on policy, research, education and training.
Cilluffo said the event was important, as the U.S. has “a lot to learn about the Philippines.” The country was recently struck with two damaging storms.