PHILIPPINES — The Philippines has told the European Union that it will no longer accept development aid from the foreign body.
Thelma Gecolea, EU delegation to the Philippines Public Affairs Officer, confirmed the development in a text message to GMA News Online.
“The PH gov’t has informed us that it will no longer accept new EU grants,” she said.
Ambassador Franz Jessen said the decision to cut aid from the EU, a strong critic of President Rodrigo Duterte’s drugs war, would mean the loss of about 250 million Euros ($278.73 million) worth of grants mostly allocated to Muslim communities.
Manila’s move comes days after Duterte won billions of dollars in pledges from China after attending the Belt and Road summit in Beijing.
“The Philippine government has informed us they no longer accept new EU grants,” Jessen said without elaborating.
The EU will issue a statement on Thursday, officially announcing the end of its funding agreement with the Philippines.
There was no immediate response from the Philippines’ foreign ministry.
It was unclear why the Philippines made the move, but it comes a couple of months after the EU Parliament, the lawmaking body of the 28-country regional bloc, adopted a resolution calling for the immediate release of Senator Leila De Lima and a probe into alleged extrajudicial killings in the country in light of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.
The EU’s trade commission has also warned that the Philippines could lose its preferential status if measures reinstating the death penalty and lowering the age of criminal liability are passed.
Duterte has bristled at the criticism from the EU, often going on profanity-laced tirades to hit back.
The EU has been providing support to Manila’s efforts to end nearly 50 years of Muslim rebellion in a conflict that has killed more than 120,000 people, displaced 1 million and stunted growth in one of the country’s resource-rich regions.
It granted the Philippines 130 million euros in development assistance between 2007-2013. In 2015, it pledged 325 million euros over four years to finance projects in Muslim Mindanao after Manila signed a peace deal with rebels in March 2014.
Earlier this month, EU ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen had assured the Philippines of continued assistance despite concerns over human rights issues.
An initial funding of €50 million (P2.76 billion) had been earmarked for Mindanao, Jessen said.
Duterte says European nations don’t understand the extent of the narcotics problem in the Philippines.
Almost 9,000 people, many small-time users and dealers, have been killed in the Philippines since Duterte took office on June 30. Police say about a third of the victims were shot by officers in self-defense during legitimate operations.
Source: GMA News Online