PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte hit the European Union (EU) anew for imposing conditions on assistance to the Philippines, after refusing grants from the 28-nation bloc.
Speaking in Davao City, Duterte said he cut assistance from the EU as it required a “consensual” contract stating that the Philippines must uphold human rights, law and order, upon the advise of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd.
He said he rejected the idea that the European Parliament could be given the right to question his programs and policies, including his war on illegal drugs, if he accepted monetary assistance.
“This EU gave $200 million, attaching a note ‘We will grant you [aid].’ Then they said, it’s supposed to be a consensual [agreement]. They gave it (financial aid) to us, indicating, ‘I’m giving you [this]to promote human rights, law and order,’” Duterte said in a mix of English and Filipino.
“Actually, I’ll tell you the truth. It was not my idea initially. It was the decision of Carlos Dominguez 3rd, Finance secretary. He’s bright. He told me, ‘Look, President, if you accept the money, they will have the right to question where the money went and interfere because you accepted it. Under that condition, they can question you now about human rights,” he added.
The EU has been a consistent aid provider particularly in disaster response. It has also been supporting initiatives related to the Mindanao peace process.
The Philippines’ relations with the EU soured after the bloc criticized Duterte’s war on drugs, drawing sharp retorts from the tough-talking Philippine leader.
The EU had expressed concern over alleged extrajudicial killings in the administration’s anti-drug campaign, even raising the matter before the United Nations Human Rights Council in March.
According to Philippine National Police figures, 2,999 drug personalities were killed in police anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016, when President Duterte took power, up to May 17, 2017.
In January, the EU warned that the Philippines might lose trade incentives tied to compliance with international commitments, including those involving human rights.