Philippines declines EU aid after billions won from China

Remigio Civitarese
Mag 19, 2017

"The President has approved the recommendation of the department of finance not to accept grants, this is not necessarily humanitarian aid from the European Union, [but grants] that may allow it to interfere with the internal policies of the Philippines", Abella said at the press briefing as quoted by Manila Bulletin newspaper.

Ernesto Pernia, the socioeconomic planning secretary, said Duterte's decision could still change.

This announcement comes days after President Duterte's visit to China's Belt and Road Forum where he amassed billions of dollars of financial pledges, as well as potential investments.

Pernia said he was "in a way" surprised by the development, but noted that President Rodrigo Duterte has a way of taking back his statements and that this development should not be taken as policy set in stone.

Senator Risa Hontiveros, another member of the Senate minority, said the administration's rejection of European Union aid "exposes the government's lack of a clear foreign policy framework on how to deal with foreign aid". It is more of a reaction to criticisms.

Mr Abella said the Philippines would review aid coming from other nations and institutions like the United Nations "on a case-to-case basis", but that Mr Duterte saw a need to wean the nation away from relying too much on grants.

He also said that continuing programs that might get aid funding cut "will have to be addressed properly by the proper agencies", but that the government "has a response regarding this matter". And even if I go to hell, I can rot in prison.

Duterte insisted he would not be intimidated by criticism of the drug war, which rights groups have said could be a crime against humanity.

The EU is the Philippines' eighth biggest source of aid, with assistance previous year worth $217 million, according to government data.

He further said that it spoke volumes about the determined position of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to stand up against the traditional patrons of former colonies like the Philippines. "I'd be happy to slaughter them", Mr Duterte said, underestimating the number of people killed in the Holocaust.

"Such an unprecedented move is short-sighted and obviously not well thought out considering that some of the administration's own key economic managers have said they were not consulted before the decision was made".

The Mindanao Trust Fund is a facility where various donors contribute to the socio-economic recovery of conflict-affected communities of Mindanao.

"With all this economic growth and demographic dividends the Philippines is enjoying, the economic breakout, there are opportunities here", he added.

In late-January, Europe sent a team to the Philippines to ascertain the government's compliance with the condition as talks for a prospective bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) proceeds. In March this year, the European Union became the largest destination of exports from the Philippines with $901 million. "It's a mutually beneficial arrangement", he added. "But of course we would want to keep such a pact", he said.

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