DFA Secretary on EU: ‘It’s the total relationship that counts’
Despite not seeing eye-to-eye on issues such as human rights and death penalty, the Philippines and the European Union (EU) continue to have good relations.
“Our relations with the EU are good and certainly there’s lots of room for improvement,” Acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said during a Meet Inquirer Multimedia forum in Makati.
He pointed out that the relations of the Philippines and EU are “multidimensional.”
“It is political, economic, cultural,” Manalo said. “And now and then and even relationships on marriages or boyfriends and girlfriends have little differences but ultimately it’s the total relationship that counts.”
Asked how EU member states are reacting to the Duterte government’s war against drugs, he said some European politicians have raised concerns and the Philippine government is “trying to give the best picture, the total picture of our policies on human rights and drugs.
He said this has not affected the country’s relationship with the EU.
“We are working on even enhancing them (relations) further,” Manalo said. “There are ongoing talks on the possible Philippine-EU free trade arrangement.”
The acting secretary declined to comment on the issue of the death penalty, saying its reimposition will be the decision of Congress.
The EU advocates the abolition of capital punishment. Some envoys have been talking to lawmakers about why it should not be reimposed in the Philippines.
READ: French ambassador urges PH lawmakers not to restore death penalty
President Rodrigo Duterte also criticized the EU for supposedly meddling in Philippine affairs after it expressed concern at the human rights situation in the country.
But Manalo said it is a two-way process as both the EU and Philippines are party to 27 human rights conventions.
He said both parties have been “exchanging information” and looking at each other’s implementation of such conventions.
Manalo also brushed off concerns of EU trade sanctions.
READ: EU: Drug killings peril PH trade with Europe
“I can’t see why. I mean we have a really excellent trade relationship with the EU not only as a whole but individually,” he said, adding that half a million Filipinos live and contribute to Europe.
“I think we have a very robust relationship and at the moment I think we are trying to maintain that and build on it,” Manalo said.
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