25 February 2018

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05/18/2017 PHILIPPINES

Duterte says no to “foreign interference”, rejects 250 million euros in EU aid

The Philippines “reserves the right to respectfully decline grants with provisions that allows foreigners to interfere with our conduct and internal affairs,” government spokesman Abella said. The EU delegation was informed yesterday during a meeting where "human rights have been mentioned," Franz Jessen, EU ambassador said. The move by the Filipino government is aimed at blocking European criticism of its controversial policies. China is the Philippines’ new ally.

Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Filipino government has turned down 250 million euros worth of development aid from the European Union (EU) because it “may be used as the reason for interfering in the internal affairs of the country,” this according to a Duterte administration official.

At a press briefing, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the rejection of financial assistance from EU would be done on a “case to case basis” and that each situation would be “viewed separately.”

“The Philippines reserves the right to accept loans and grants that help attain its objective of promoting economic growth and inclusiveness. It also reserves the right to respectfully decline grants with provisions that allows foreigners to interfere with our conduct and internal affairs,” Abella added.

A EU delegation to the Philippines today said that they were informed of the government’s decision to turn down the grant during a meeting yesterday. However, they have not received any written confirmation of the decision.

When asked for the explanation behind the rejected development aid, EU Ambassador Franz Jessen told the media that “human rights were mentioned” during the meeting.

In recent months, the EU has harshly criticised the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, condemning extrajudicial murders and human rights violations. The move by the Filipino government is aimed at blocking European criticism of the president’s controversial policies.

When asked how the Filipino government plans to replace the rejected aid, most of which is destined for poor communities in Mindanao, Abella said that it “depends on the DOF (Department of Finance), but I suppose there are other sources of funding."

Abella added that humanitarian aid for victims of natural calamities may still be accepted by the government as long as they are “unconditional.” In fact, “We do not have any comments about humanitarian aid . . . Humanitarian aid is usually unconditional,” he explained.

“The President wants Filipinos to avoid a mendicant mentality,” he added, noting the rejection of the EU aid would not affect diplomatic relations between the Philippines and the European regional bloc.

A few days ago, President Duterte was in China (14-15 May) for the OBOR (One belt one road) Forum, along with leaders from a total of 68 countries interested in developing jointly infrastructure along new Silk Road trade routes.

During his bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday, Duterte signed four trade agreements. This included a deal to implement a RMB 500-million grant to conduct feasibility studies for major projects, like the construction of the drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation centre and bridges crossing the Pasig River, this according to the Presidential Communications Operations Office.

The Pasig river connects Laguna de Bay to Manila Bay, dividing the Filipino capital and its metropolitan area into two parts, one north and one south.

See also

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