The Philippines will no longer accept assistance from the European Union, forgoing grants possibly worth more than 250 million euros ($278.7 million or around P13 billion) for development projects in the country.
The EU delegation in Manila said the Philippine government informed it about its decision Wednesday, but it has yet to receive a written notice.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, in a text reply to the Associated Press, said the move was “to discourage them from interfering with our internal affairs.”
President Duterte earlier had challenged the EU to stop its assistance after the bloc warned that the Philippines risks losing tariff-free exports to Europe because of the thousands killed in the war on drugs launched by Duterte and Manila’s moves to revive the death penalty.
“The President has approved the recommendation of the Department of Finance not to accept grants from the EU that may allow it to interfere with internal policies of the Philippines,’’ presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said.
Abella failed to disclose what triggered the DoF to make such recommendations. “This is not necessarily humanitarian aid from the EU, but grants that may allow it to interfere with the internal policies of the Philippines,” he said.
These grants, Abella said, pertain to particular projects or programs that are objectionable or have the potential of affecting the country’s autonomy.
“The Philippines reserves the right to accept loans and grants that help attain its objectives of promoting economic development inclusiveness and reducing poverty, attaining peace within its borders and with its neighbors, and fostering a law-abiding society,” he said. “It also reserves the right to respectfully decline offers that do not achieve these goals and offers that allow foreigners to interfere with the conduct of its internal affairs,” he added.
Abella added that it does not mean that the Philippines will also be rejecting aid or grants from other international aid-giving bodies like the United Nations. “We’ll take it on a case to case basis. We can accept or respectfully decline that which we find objectionable,” he said.
EU Ambassador Franz Jessen said more than 250 million euros ($278.7 million) worth of grants was at stake.