Cayetano confirms PH no longer accepting EU grants

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 19) — The Foreign Affairs Department on Thursday confirmed the country will no longer accept new aid from the European Union, as directed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said both sides have been trying to iron out differences in previous months, with the EU considering changing the wording of its aid deals to make them less conditional.

This comes a day after Duterte said the country will reject grants from the EU as it insults the country's sovereignty.

"I will not accept it. Hindi na baleng maghirap tayo. Sabihin ko sa mga tao, magtiis tayo pobre tayo, pero kung ganun lang naman kung tuturuan ka kung paanong gawin...we cannot be forever be dependent of aid," Duterte said on Wednesday.

[Translation: I will not accept it. It's alright that we remain poor. I will tell people that we can remain poor, but if they just keep telling us what to do...we cannot be forever be dependent of aid.]

"Kaya ko 'yan sila minumura kasi they do not know how to respect sovereignty," he added.

[Translation: I am cursing at them because they do not know how to respect sovereignty.]

The President recently slammed the EU for their supposed remarks against his drug war. It was later clarified that Duterte's tirade was directed at a delegation which does not represent the EU.

Cayetano also said the aid deals were "one-sided" as they allow the EU to cancel the aid unilaterally if it finds the country is committing human rights violations.

The Philippines, meanwhile, offered to give the EU regular quarterly meetings on the human rights situation in the country.

Cayetano earlier clarified President's order was to prevent the EU from interfering in local policies.

"Let's build friendship in other matters. Let's continue to do economics straight in tourism...pero huwag na tayo magbigayan ng pera pero magsisihan tayo tapos magsingilan (but let's not exchange money then just blame and demand payment)," he said.

The Foreign Affairs Secretary also said it is possible for the country to accept aid from EU again, but without conditions.

"Personal view ko, if EU starts giving us with no strings attached, everyone could use the help. But if apektado sovereignty natin, I don't blame the President in drawing the line," he said.

Cayetano said bilateral trade and diplomatic relations will continue, even as Duterte earlier told EU ambassadors to leave the country.

"There's no order to leave and certain meetings will be set to clarify many of these issues," Cayetano said.

The Philippines has an EU Generalized Scheme of Preference plus status, granted in December 2014, which allows the country to export 6,274 types of products with no tax to the EU. The products range from electronics, machinery and transport equipment, coconut oil, manufactured goods, and chemicals.

As a condition, the Philippines must promote human rights based on the EU-Philippine Partnership Framework Agreement.

According to the EU External Action, the EU and the Philippines has had a total trade in goods worth €13-billion (P786-billion) in 2015, with the Philippines importing goods worth €6.2-billion (P375-billion) from EU.

The country is set to receive €325 million euros (around P18.05 billion) in aid from 2014 to 2020 under the EU's Multiannual Indicative Program for the Philippines. The money will be used for sustainable energy and job creation, legal and judicial reform, as well as feasibility studies and outreach programs.

The EU is also a member of the International Monitoring Team led by Malaysia that oversees the implementation of the peace deal between government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.