Palace scorns EU parliament's threat to revoke PH tariff rates exemptions over human right violations
Malacanang dared on Friday the European parliament to revoke the Philippines' export tariff exemptions, saying that if it wants to add up to the suffering of the Filipinos, "go ahead."
In a virtual press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that the basis of the the European Union's pushing for the removal of the Generalized Scheme of Preference Plus status about the supposed deteriorating human rights situation in the Philippines was a "classic case of misinformation."
"Unfortunately, the Philippine opponents, including the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army) that was classified as a terrorist, is very strong in Europe. In fact, Joma Sison (Jose Maria Sison, founding chairman of CPP), the number one terrorist, is based in Europe," he said.
Sison has been in self exiled in the Netherlands for decades.
The EU parliament specifically raised concern over the deteriorating press freedom in the Philippines, citing the case of Maria Ressa, Rappler's CEO and president, and shutdown of ABS-CBN, and the killings of some activists.
In the case of Ressa, Roque insisted it was a case of "bad journalism and lawyering" and the libel case filed against her was made by a private individual and not by the government.
On ABS-CBN, he noted that under the Constitution, a franchise should be granted by Congress.
"There's no different when the European parliament requires something for approval and the European parliament refused to give its approval," Roque said.
He reiterated that the Philippine government is not hiding anything.
"Our democracy is being seen by everyone, but we can't be cowed by those threats in this time of pandemic because we have hit rock bottom," Roque said.
The spokesman also said that if EU would revoke the tariff exemption on Philippine products, "They will be the biggest contributor to the violation of right to life of the Filipino."
"They've been seeing human right violations; we're saying our court is open, they don't want to believe; it's here, they can come here. They apparently see us like Somali, which has a failed or no government," he said.
He also said that EU would add to the sufferings of the Filipinos in this time of pandemic if it removes the GSP+.
"We will accept that as history repeating itself. Stop that discussion. Do whatever they want. In this time, if they want to implement it, go ahead," he added. Celerina Monte/DMS