EU not imposing on PH in voicing concern for rights situation, says envoy
Franz Jessen, the European Union (EU) ambassador to the Philippines, clarified on Friday that Europe was not imposing its culture by expressing concern at the human rights situation in Philippines.
The ambassador was reacting to statements made by President Rodrigo Duterte a day before cussing out the EU for what he called its meddling in Philippine affairs.
Jessen pointed out that the Philippines, as a signatory to 27 United Nations (UN) conventions, would have to abide by the international commitments it made, including those that involve human rights.
“So it’s not 27 conventions we are imposing on you,” he said. “It’s 27 conventions that you already signed up for in the UN system.”
Several trade agreements with the EU, he said, hinge on respect for UN commitments.
He pointed out that an EU mission concluded in January its assessment of the situation in the Philippines and ended its follow-up work with the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Foreign Affairs in February.
“There will be a number of questions asked to the Philippine side which covers a number of areas like human rights and labor,” Jessen said, adding that the report of the EU mission is expected to be finished toward the end of the year.
“We are monitoring the respect of these (UN) conventions by the Philippines and we will carefully consider what implications the findings might have for our trade engagement with the Filipinos,” he added.
As of January 2017, the EU was the Philippines’ largest exporting partner, accounting for almost $900 million, or 17.5 percent, of total Philippine exports.
The EU ambassador nevertheless assured Filipinos that, while the EU had concerns, it remained committed to its projects in the Philippines involving the health sector, law enforcement, the peace process, environment, disaster risk reduction, and regional development, particularly in Mindanao.
The EU has earmarked P17 billion of grant money to fund Philippine development programs as it recognizes the country as one of its longest and closest diplomatic partners. /atm
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