BECAUSE countries in the European Union (EU) are pressuring the Philippines to legalize abortion and drug use, the government would rather forego aid than give in to unacceptable demands, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said on Friday.
Cayetano told reporters the EU agenda of legalizing abortion and drug possession is totally unacceptable not only to the government but to the Philippines, a Catholic country.
He described relations between the Philippines and the 28-member bloc as “rocky” and on a “roller coaster.”
“They want abortion to be legalized here. That’s the condition of some countries like the Netherlands,” said the former senator who was plucked out of Congress to help President Rodrigo Duterte execute his “independent foreign policy.”
Cayetano said he learned of the Netherlands’ demands earlier this month during the periodic review of the United Nations human rights council in Geneva, Switzerland on the Philippines’ rights record.
Cayetano led a delegation from the Executive and Legislative branches that defended the drug war of the Duterte administration.
“They want to legalize the possession of drugs for personal use. How can that be accepted here, what will you do with money when you have so many addicts. Their demands are not in the grants, but we have to read between the lines,” he said.
The newly minted Cabinet official said he would meet EU ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen after joining the President’s official visit to Russia next week.
“The ball is actually in the hands of EU to tell us that there are no strings attached and that the money is for humanitarian help. Second, that they will not interfere with our internal affairs. Third, we want to hear from them that they support our law and order campaign. They have been saying that, but once they see that somebody is killed, they will say it is not rule of law. What do they want to see, policemen being killed?” he said.
“So, we have good relations with EU but it’s going to a rocky period, it is like a roller-coaster ride. But we are in this ride together,” he said.
“I think are many miscommunications here. We are drawing the red line and we, as a country, are independent.”
Cayetano noted that China and Japan extend grants without conditions.
The EU had offered 325 million euros in aid until 2020, mostly for development programs aimed at helping poor families in Muslim Mindanao. Jessen, in earlier interviews, said the grants were designed to boost employment and agriculture.
On May 14, the government sent a letter to Jessen informing him that the Philippines would no longer accept aid, rejecting the conditions attached to the grants.