Philippines rejected EU aid due to sovereignty issues — trade chief

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Philippines rejected EU aid due to sovereignty issues â trade chief

President Rodrigo Duterte had previously said he would reject all forms of aid with conditions that could infringe on the Philippines’ sovereignty. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File

NEW DELHI — The 6.1 million euro assistance offered by the European Union was rejected by the Duterte administration because of sovereignty issues, an official said Thursday.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the language used in the agreement that would have facilitated the giving of the aid was not acceptable.
“The draft agreement signed by EU was not signed by the Philippine side. I think there were still issues on the language…until the deadline was reached, I think end of year,” Lopez said in a press briefing here.
“So in effect, the EU had no choice but to return that to the budget. They returned the budget basically,” he added.
Lopez could not say what was unacceptable in the language, merely noting that agreements are usually rejected because of the way they are written.
“There seemed to be an issue there that sorts of touch on sovereignty. That issue that has to be resolved,” the trade chief said.
The Philippines and the EU tried to correct the language but they were not able to do so before the deadline, he added.
Last Wednesday, EU Ambassador Franz Jessen confirmed that the Philippines has rejected a 6.1 million euros (about P382 million) trade-related assistance. The aid would have been implemented under the EU-Philippine Trade Related Technical Assistance in 2017.
President Rodrigo Duterte previously said he would reject all forms of aid with conditions that could infringe on the Philippines’ sovereignty.

Duterte has been assailing the EU for its statements critical of his brutal war on illegal drugs, a campaign that has left more than 3,000 suspected drug offenders dead.
Last year, Duterte wrongly accused the EU of seeking to remove the Philippines from the United Nations over alleged human rights violations and summary executions. He went as far as asking the ambassadors of the EU member states to leave the country.
The statement that angered Duterte was not issued by the EU but by a group of European parliamentarians who do not represent the bloc.
Asked about the impact of the rejection of the aid, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said: “The Philippines does not rely on dole-outs to respond to the needs of the people.”
“We are doing it as a country. We are providing for the needs of our people. We now have outstanding economic growth and this will enable us to give what our people will need,” he added. 
In the same press briefing, Roque could not say whether Duterte would accept the invitation of the EU to attend the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting in Brussels, Belgium in October
"He (Duterte) will have to follow his own guidelines," the presidential spokesman said. 
"We need to be very clear on what benefits the Philippines will get from such a visit. It must not be too expensive. So pursuant to those guidelines, the president will make a decision."

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