EDITORIAL

Is PH refusal of EU aid a fitting response to EU interference?

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WE have to ask because our newly confirmed Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alan Peter Cayetano is barely settled in his seat, and here we are already on the brink of cutting off an important link to an entire continent, with which we have close cultural and political ties dating back centuries.

How did Philippine-EU relations deteriorate so badly under the 10-month-old administration of President Rodrigo Duterte that the Philippines has now formally decided to refuse aid from the community? What happened to Filipino and European diplomacy that relations could decline so quickly to this abysmal point? What were the specific EU actions that necessitated this extreme response from our government?

Before answering these questions, we think it prudent to remind everyone that that this is an important and valuable relationship to both sides. The issue should be weighed in the context of the history, the entirety and the continuity of the PH-EU relationship. Care should be exercised by all so that ties are not disrupted or ruptured by impulsive and careless actions. Above all, we should apply sound statecraft and thoughtful dialogue to this misunderstanding.

The problems should be addressed squarely, not glossed over. This Philippine action was precipitated by an escalating series of actions by EU officials to question the Philippines authority to conduct its own affairs. Consider:

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First, some two months ago, the EU parliament, the lawmaking body of the 28-country regional bloc, adopted a resolution calling for the immediate release of Sen. Leila de Lima. It did not bother to conduct an investigation of the senator’s detention and the reasons why Philippine justice officials have charged her, or even what the specific charges are.

Second, in the same resolution, the EU parliament demanded an official investigation of alleged extra-judicial killings (EJKs) in the country as a by-product of the government’s war on illegal drugs.

Thirdly, the EU’s trade commission issued a warning that the Philippines could lose its preferential trading status if it passes legislation to reinstate the death penalty or lower the age of criminal liability.

Many Filipinos, particularly President Duterte, are incensed at the idea that what confers on EU the authority to interfere brusquely in Philippine affairs is that we maintain good trade relations with the bloc, and that the country receives significant development aid from the community. EU officials believe our government should do their bidding.

This is unconscionable and unworthy of all the effort that has been expended by statesmen to build up and refine our relationship. It reduces the relationship in one swoop to something pecuniary and meretricious.

The European and Filipino publics should be made aware of the fact that there is an active international lobby today to take down the Duterte government for its alleged human rights violations. That lobby seems to have succeeded up to a point.

What the EU does with its money and largesse is, of course, the community’s business. What the Philippines does inside the country and undertakes in pursuit of its goals is also entirely its business.

This should not be a question of one side giving way to the other. This should be a matter of respect and mutuality. But careless politics and humbug have brought about this unfortunate situation today.

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12 Comments

  1. I agree with what our presidents decision. It is none of EU’s business to dictate how we run our own affairs.

  2. Andres Iniesto on

    Didn’t our parents tell us many times during our schooldays days to stop eating from our classmates “baon”? Reason number one is, we are open to bullying. Number two is “amor propio”: We may be poor but we can’t be beggars forever.

    EU is the type that offers you sandwich with his left hand, then slaps your face with his right hand.

  3. The EU is little more than a cabal of leftists telling other people how to live. Margaret Thatcher realized this when she retained the British Pound as the home currency and left the exit open for the day when enough was enough with the EU’s leftism and social engineering. President Duterte is right to refuse this aid. They are trying to tell you how you should govern, fight the drug dealers, fight the terrorists and even how you should generate electricity. They have no interest in really changing the lives of the poor because that would require cheap and plentiful power and resurgent industrial production. It would require “progress” in the old sense of the word meaning rising life styles and consumption. People who are rich do not live in filth, drink bad water or perish in flimsy buildings during storms. There are enough of them in the Philippines to inspire the remainder to want a better life.
    It is a shame that Duterte’s alternative is China and Russia but so be it. Russia is a useless association as it is ruled by a real tyrant and that has been the history of the country for centuries. China was opened to the world by force of arms and we got what we got and we deserve it so make the most of it. China is nearby and has to be delt with one way or the other so it might as well be as amicable as possible. Duterte is doing well so far.

    • Well said. EU aids has conditions attached that undermines the sovereignty of the country, eg. release of Leila De Lima, which every Filipino knows (Westerners are blind to the fine details of Philippines corruption and shabu epidemic), she is as corrupt as they come, using the law to shield her guilt for allowing Bilibid prison to become the HQ of narco-politics. Let’s not forget that Japan (A “western” influenced country) also sends aids and grants to PH but does not have such arrogant conditions that meddles in the country’s politics and economy. Let’s not forget, as every Filipino knows, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. EU has their own interests in mind and Duterte has Filipino’s interests at heart. As a Filipino, I trust Duterte more than I trust EU. At the very least, we know President Duterte is NOT blinded by money, unlike Aquino and his gang of pork barrel thieves.

    • Freddie L. Villanueva on

      I think our government is on the right tract pursuing an independent foreign policy. Its time to put to trash cans foreign intervention in the guise of foreign aids.

  4. Conditional aid should be viewed on a case by case basis. If the conditions for aid are undesirable, there is no compelling reason to accept that aid. This is especially so when there are alternative sources of aid available. The EU is no longer the only game in town.

    True reform must come from within and not tied to someone else’s vision of the world.

  5. yan tama. Huwag na tayung mag pa limos kung nakikialam naman sila sa bansa natin.