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Koko: Duterte outburst was defense of 'Filipino values', sovereignty

Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III on Friday said the country will not submit to the "dictates and demands" of "modern progressive Western countries." Senate PRIB/Joseph Vidal

MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Friday defended President Rodrigo Duterte's profanity-laced attack on the European Union, saying it was “just an outburst.”

Duterte on Thursday warned the EU ambassadors to leave the country in 24 hours for supposedly lobbying for the country’s removal from the United Nations. There has been no talk of removing the Philippines from the UN, although Human Rights Watch, a non-government organization, has warned that human rights concerns related to the war on drugs could see the Philippines removed from the UN Human Rights Council.

“Now the ambassadors of those countries listening now: tell me because we can have the diplomatic channel cut tomorrow. You leave my country in 24 hours. All of you,” an angry Duterte said in his speech in Malacañang.

READDuterte warns EU ambassadors: 'You leave my country in 24 hours'

Pimentel, an administration ally and president of the ruling PDP-Laban party, said that the EU ambassadors should know that the president’s statement is not an order to leave, noting that such directive would come from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

“The Philippines values its relationships with all countries. We want to be and should be ‘the friend to all nations’ especially those with longstanding relations with us like the EU countries,” Pimentel said in a message to reporters.

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He also noted that the country is also developing and strengthening with non-EU countries such as China and Russia.

Malacañang on Thursday was quick to clarify that the presidential remarks were directed at the seven-member delegation of the International Delegates of the Progressive Alliance, who, the Palace admits, did not represent the bloc’s mission in the country.

Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said that there is no instruction to expel EU diplomats.

Special envoy to the EU Edgardo Angara clarified that no EU ambassador would leave the country despite the president’s tirades.

READPalace rushes to explain as Duterte mistakenly aims ire at EU | International delegation did not claim to represent EU

‘Don’t meddle in our affairs’

Pimentel, an ally of the president, said the context of Duterte’s latest tirade was that the country’s sovereignty should be respected.

“We will not submit to your dictates and whims and your other standards and 'modern way' of looking at things. The Filipino way of doing things and Filipino values have their own worth independent of the opinion of the other countries, especially of those ‘modern progressive Western countries,” Pimentel said.

He added: “In short: hinay hinay kayo sa pakikialam niyo sa amin kasi may mga utak din kami (Be circumspect in interfering with our affairs because we too have brains)!”

Abella also said the chief executive only wanted “undue interferences in our domestic affairs” to preserve the integrity and dignity of the country as a sovereign nation.

Early this year, the Philippine government announced that it would no longer accept grants from EU particularly those that would allow the bloc to interfere in Manila’s autonomy.

But Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia later said the decision to reject EU grants was “not a policy,” adding that Duterte, who is known to flip-flop on his statements, might "take back" his statement soon as this could only be driven by "reaction."

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