Malacañang on Saturday underscored the need for peace and order in the country as it chided a European Union (EU) official for threatening to review trade deals amid drug-related killings and moves to re-impose the death penalty.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said this after EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström expressed concern over the administration’s no-nonsense war on illegal drugs and the plan by lawmakers to revive the death penalty.
“Frankly speaking, what the President wants is to improve the country, [to become]a country worthy of the Filipino people,” Abella told state-run radio station dzRB.
On Friday, Malmström warned that EU could trigger a review of trade agreements with the Philippines if a death penalty bill hurdles Congress, and if summary killings continue unabated.
“We are concerned about some of the issues here in the Philippines: the reinstatement of the death penalty, also the extrajudicial killings and the proposal to lower the judicial responsibility age to nine years – and these are also some of the concerns that we have conveyed to our partners here in the Philippines,” Malmström said.
But Abella said the predicaments of the country were not understood fully by certain groups and the international community.
He pointed to problems such as corruption, crimes and illegal drugs. “There are deeper problems the President is facing. Now, in our government, he is facing many challenges,” Abella said.
“The government cannot neglect or cause delay or derailment when it comes to threats because that is a threat to international communities like EU. They cannot just understand what is really happening here,” he added.
The EU parliament admonished the Duterte administration last year over its fight against drugs that has killed hundreds of suspects and innocent people.
Duterte responded by castigating the EU and saying the Philippines could live without its assistance.