INQUIRER.NET

Duterte not keen on accepting EU invite to Belgium meet

EU Ambassador Franz Jessen (File photo from AFP)

Two weeks before the European Parliament is set to review the Philippines’ trade perks, President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he was not keen on accepting the invitation of the European Union (EU) for him to attend an Asia-Europe meeting in Belgium later this year.

Mr. Duterte, who had thrown expletives at the European Union for criticism of the government’s bloody war on drugs, said his critics might just insult him if he accepted the invitation from European Council President Donald Tusk and the European Commission.

“If you see me that way, why change your assessment of my persona? What am I supposed to do there? Ask me question? You will insult me? I’ll just curse all of you there,” the President said in a speech in Pasig City.

The EU is a union of 27 member states while the European Commission is an institution of the EU responsible for proposing legislation and implementing decisions. The European Parliament is the directly elected institution of the EU.

EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen earlier said the group had sent an invitation for Mr. Duterte to attend the Asia-Europe meeting in October, which could give Mr. Duterte the chance to have a “more positive understanding of the European Union.”

“I really don’t have an ambition to see places. I hate to travel really,” the President said.

European lawmakers are expected to discuss the merits of its preferential trade arrangement with the Philippines on February 20.

Jessen said the European parliament would discuss the latest report on the country’s commitments under the Generalized System of Preference Plus (GSP+). Lawmakers would also discuss the status of other GSP+ beneficiaries.

The GSP+ is a perk that allowed the Philippines to export more than 6,000 products to EU at zero tariff for the past three years.

This, however, is based on the condition that the beneficiary state would stick to certain international conventions, including one on human rights, a constant concern raised by critics of President Duterte.

The European Commission earlier released its second monitoring report of the country’s international commitments under the GSP+

While it did not explicitly recommend whether or not the GSP+ status should remain, the report noted that the way the government waged its drug war was “a matter of grave concern.”

In his speech, Mr. Duterte said he also had a standing invitation from American President Donald Trump to visit the United States.

“But two senators there said that, ‘If Duterte comes here, we will lead the protest,’” the President said.

“You know guys, you are too presumptuous. Whoever told you that I will go to your place? What will I get there?” he added.

Outbrain