EU defends grants, seeks Philippines’ clarification on aid rejection

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The European Union’s (EU) ambassador to the Philippines said he will seek clarification from the Duterte administration regarding its recent decision to reject assistance from the EU.

Last week, the Philippine government announced that it has stopped accepting aid “with conditions” from the EU as part of affirming its foreign independence policy.

According to Malacañang, the government will refuse new EU grants that have the potential of affecting the “internal policies” of the country, as recommended by the Department of Finance (DOF) and approved by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Spokesperson Ernesto Abella disclosed that the DOF made the recommendation after the EU “recently” offered a conditional grant that seemingly meddles in the country’s internal affairs.

In defense, Ambassador Franz Jessen maintained that the EU grants are not meant to change the system of the recipient countries but, rather, to promote their development.

“It’s not a question of trying to change the system but trying to work hand-in-hand with governments around the world to make sure that the countries in need develop in the best possible way,” Jessen said on Tuesday, May 23.

Next week, the top diplomat he will meet with Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and seek clarifications from him regarding the matter.

“We have to get clarification on what exactly it is that they’re referring to,” Jessen said, adding “We have to listen to what he (Cayetano) has to say, this is a dialogue and we talking and take issues step by step.”

Presently, Jessen confirmed that the EU is “not withdrawing any amount” and remains “in contact with the government on how best to work on our development assistance.”

While admitting that the EU has a “standard set of conditions” on all of its development assistance, Jessen said those are meant to prevent any form of anomaly or corruption.

“In every project, you have specifications, if we support the health sector then the money should go to the health sector, not to another department,” Jessen explained.

Last year, Duterte dared the EU, along with the United States and other critics, to pull out their assistance from the Philippines amid their criticisms against his administration’s drug war, and the alleged human rights violations and summary killings related to the campaign.

The ambassador, however, said that that the human rights issues are unrelated to the development assistance that the EU gives.

Jessen went on to say, “We have a political dialogue with the Philippines and there, we raise all sorts of issues and that’s not directly related to our development cooperation.”



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