Palace: Gov’t rejecting ‘conditional’ EU grants
Malacañang on Thursday said President Rodrigo Duterte had approved the recommendation of the Department of Finance (DOF) to reject grants from the European Union (EU) that “may allow it to interfere with internal affairs” of the Philippines.
In 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.”
Abella, however, did not elaborate and said he “cannot comment further” when pressed by reporters what conditions constitute “interference.”
“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 said.
“This statement mainly focuses on grants that have certain provisions that will allow foreign entities to interfere,” he added.
The Duterte administration has declined 20 million euros worth of development aid from the regional bloc, days after the President’s second visit to China for the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation and a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The EU has been critical of the Duterte government’s war on drugs, amid allegations of extrajudicial killings and human rights violations. In a text message to the Inquirer, EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen said “human rights were mentioned” in the rejection of the development aid.
Asked about how the Philippine government would compensate for the rejected aid, most of which would have gone to poor communities in Mindanao, Abella said: “That depends on the DOF, 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.”
“We do not have any comments about humanitarian aid… Humanitarian aid is usually unconditional,” he said.
“We need to gain a certain level of confidence in ourselves. The President wants Filipinos to avoid a mendicant mentality,” Abella added, noting the rejection of the EU aid would not affect diplomatic relations between the Philippines and the regional bloc. IDL/rga
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