‘Government acting on Europe Parliament concerns’

Louella Desiderio, Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
âGovernment acting on Europe Parliament concernsâ
The European Parliament recently approved a resolution strongly condemning the “thousands of extrajudicial killings and other serious human rights violations” linked to President Duterte’s drug war.
STAR / Miguel De Guzman, file

MANILA, Philippines — The government is acting on the issues on human rights and extrajudicial killings raised by the European Parliament, Malacañang said yesterday, as it accused critics of supposedly using the concerns raised by the legislative body to influence voters in the May 9 elections.

The European Parliament recently approved a resolution strongly condemning the “thousands of extrajudicial killings and other serious human rights violations” linked to President Duterte’s drug war.

The resolution also reiterated the parliament’s call for the Philippine government to immediately end “all violence and human rights violations targeting suspected drug offenders” and condemned “all threats, harassment, intimidation and violence” against those seeking to expose allegations of extrajudicial killings and other abuses.

The legislative body likewise urged the European Commission to set clear, public, time-bound benchmarks for the Philippines to comply with its human rights obligations under the Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) scheme.

It asked the commission to immediately initiate the procedure that could lead to the temporary withdrawal of the Philippines’ trade perks “if there is no substantial improvement and willingness to cooperate on the part of the Philippine authorities.”

Under the GSP+ scheme, more than 6,000 Philippine exports to European Union (EU) member-states enjoy zero duties.

“We wish to reiterate that the government has already taken steps to address the concerns raised by the European Union Parliament – issues that we believe are being used by the detractors of the Duterte Administration to color the perceptions of Filipino voters who in May will choose the country’s next leaders,” acting presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles said in a statement.

Nograles said an existing dialogue mechanism with the EU is in place and that the Philippine government has expressed on numerous occasions its willingness to work and cooperate with the regional bloc to shed light on the concerns raised by the parliament.

“The actions taken by the government in this regard are a clear demonstration of our compliance with conventions on human rights, labor and good governance, among others,” he added.

Nograles urged the international community to take into account the Filipinos’ views on the Duterte administration, saying the President is poised to step down with the highest satisfaction, approval and trust ratings of any post-EDSA chief executive despite the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We urge those in the international community to view the government’s actions through the eyes of our people in order to have a better appreciation of the steps the Duterte administration has taken to ensure the safety, security and prosperity of the country’s over 100 million citizens,” the Palace official said.

‘Fake news’

Nograles cited Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez’s statement that the allegations on human rights and lack of press freedom are “fake news” that give “false impressions on the real situation in the Philippines.”

“They should visit our beautiful country. It is unfortunate that the politicians of a huge economic bloc are the one destroying the image of a small democratic country of peace-loving Filipinos, and it is like bullying a small country,” Lopez said in a recent statement.

“They should ask the Filipinos in their companies or communities. They should also ask the EU citizens, the EU business chambers in the country. The 72 percent of the population who gave a high approval rating for Philippine President Duterte cannot be wrong,” he added.

The Philippines continues to facilitate the EU’s regular GSP+ monitoring mission and there is one forthcoming at the end of the month, the trade chief said.

“This process is more systematic and organized in obtaining accurate information regarding the real situation in the country. They get to visit as well the projects and the marginalized sectors that get to benefit from the EU GSP+ and other stakeholders. And that’s why we still have the GSP+,” Lopez said.

Presidential adviser for entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion, meanwhile, said he is optimistic EU-Philippine issues would be resolved with the change in leadership.

“I believe as we elect a new leader, there will be a reset in relationships. And I am optimistic that the issue can be resolved with this election coming in, a new president. And I am sure everybody will want to reset that relationship,” Concepcion said at the Pandesal Forum of Kamuning Bakery Cafe yesterday.

George Barcelon, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and chairman of the Philippine Exporters Confederation, said he is hopeful the removal of the trade privileges would not push through as it would affect the country’s exports.

Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. president Henry Lim Bon Liong said it would be a big blow to the country if the trade privileges would be taken out.

While the Philippines benefits from the EU GSP+, he said he is hopeful the EU would also look at how it benefits from the products being exported by the country.

“As we need to export to them, they also need our products. So it’s a two-way affair,” he said.


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with