EU ambassador to meet Cayetano next week, clarify aid issue
(Updated, 4:37 p.m.) European Union Ambassador Franz Jessen on Tuesday said he will be meeting Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano next week to clarify reports about the Philippines’ rejection of development aid.
“I expect to meet Secretary Cayetano next week,” Jessen told reporters at the sidelines of a literature forum at the University of Santo Tomas.
Cayetano, who was recently appointed as secretary, is currently in Russia for President Rodrigo Duterte’s official visit.
Jessen said the meeting will allow them to clarify the issue, especially since the EU has yet to receive a formal letter from the Philippine government.
Malacañang earlier announced that it will be turning down 250 million euros worth of grants from the European Union allegedly because of certain conditions imposed by the bloc. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez was quoted saying that the proposed EU grant “would involve [a] review of our adherence to the rule of law.” Reports said it also had something to do with the human rights situation in the Philippines, which has raised concerns among the EU and the international community.
However, Jessen said the conditions for EU’s grants and programs are “standard.” Projects “heavily tainted with corruption” are, for example, discontinued. He said there are also technical specifications.
“There are no special conditions for the Philippines. What we do here in the Philippines is in line with what we do in other parts of the world,” he said.
“We have to see what the issue is about here…look on whether the degree of information is correct or not,” he said when asked if Duterte might have been misinformed about EU’s conditions.
“Human rights discussion is unrelated to our development (aid),” Jessen explained. “We have a political dialogue with the Philippines and we raise all sorts of issues.”
Asked how the issue of human rights was linked to development aid, he said, “We have to hear from the government what it is about.”
Duterte has in the past criticized the EU for being vocal against his war on illegal drugs, which has resulted in thousands of deaths.
In the meantime, Jessen said EU will continue its existing programs.
“We are not withdrawing any amount. We are in contact with the government how best to work on a development assistance,” he said. “We work as we have done in the past. Anyway, I don’t think there is any question with ongoing assistance so we will continue that.” IDL