EU seeks explanation for Duterte's tirade

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 28) — The European Union (EU) has asked the highest-ranking Philippine diplomat in Brussels, Belgium for an explanation in the wake of President Rodrigo Duterte's recent tirades against the bloc.

In a statement, EU Spokesperson Maja Kocijancic said the European External Action Service asked Philippine Chargé d'Affaires Alan Deniega to meet with Deputy Secretary General Jean-Cristophe Belliard for an explanation on what they call as Duterte's "unacceptable comments."

Last week, Duterte made expletive-laden statements, criticizing the EU for supposedly interfering in his war against illegal drugs.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) then replied with a brief statement, but did not address EU's request for an explanation.

"The Charge d'Affaires Ad Interim of the Philippine Embassy in Belgium had a meeting with the European External Action Service of the EU in Brussels on March 27, 2017 to discuss issues of mutual concern to Philippine-EU bilateral relations. In that meeting, embassy officials took the opportunity to inform the EU of developments in the Philippines," said DFA spokesperson Charles Jose.

But when asked whether Deniega faced questions about the President's statements, Jose stopped short of confirming it.

"Well, of course, the Philippine Embassy official took note of the representation made by the EU and at the same time took the opportunity to inform the EU side of developments in the Philippines to make them understand the real situation in the country," said Jose.

Earlier, the EU already denied Duterte's statement saying it urged the Philippines to create clinics where substitution drugs would be used to treat drug addiction.

This came after Duterte said last Friday that the EU wanted a "health-based" solution for drug addiction that includes building clinics that injected patients with doses of drugs they were addicted to.

In a media briefing on Tuesday, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella clarified the President's remarks, saying it was a European country and not the EU itself that proposed the program.

"The European Union itself is not offering that particular therapy program. However, there was a European nation that apparently offered technical assistance along that line, which we have not taken up," he said.

Abella said the relationship between the EU and the Philippines is "quite excellent."

"The European parliament seems to be creating its own brand of noise but basically if talkin about relations with Europe, our relationships are quite solid and economocally based," he said.

Duterte's war against illegal drugs has grabbed the attention of several international bodies, as the crackdown resulted in thousands of deaths within several months.

DFA: EU reiterated its position on PH's war on drugs

DFA said it has received the report of the European Union (EU) about its meeting with the country's top diplomat in Brussels. 

The DFA declined to give details about the meeting.

Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Charles Jose told reporters, the EU External Affairs Service conveyed to Deniega the bloc's opinions on the government's war on drugs and reinstatement of the death penalty.

"Of course may mga position sila diyan. Inulit lang nila, kinonvey lang nila 'yung mga usual position nila on those issues. We continue to engage the EU in dialogue. Importante na ma-explain din sa kanila 'yung mga situation that prevail in the country, why there is a need to undertake this anti-drugs campaign, to promote peace and order and also, for the sake of the future generation of Filipinos," Jose said.

[Translation: Of course they have positions on this. They just reiterated, they conveyed their usual position on those issues. We continue to engage the EU in dialogue. It's important to explain to them the situations that prevail in the country, why there is a need to undertake this anti-drugs campaign, to promote peace and order and also, for the sake of the future generation of Filipinos.]

This story was updated on March 29 to add DFA's response.