EU won't halt aid until Philippines clarifies issue
The European Union is set to seek clarification from the Department of Foreign Affairs regarding President Rodrigo Duterte's decision not to accept grant aid from the regional grouping.
But while there was no formal communication yet with the Philippine government, EU would not halt its 250 million euros worth of assistance until 2020, said EU Ambassador Franz Jessen.
"We are not withdrawing any amount. We are in contact with the government how best to work on this development assistance," he told reporters at the sidelines of a symposium in a university in Manila.
He said EU is waiting for the "written clarification" from the government as he also expects to meet next week Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano after he returns from Russia. Cayetano has been accompanying Duterte in an official visit to Moscow.
"We have to make clarification what exactly is that they are referring to. Those two words were not mentioned in any meeting," he said referring to the human rights and rule of law.
The Duterte administration has decided to reject EU aid due to conditions on human rights and rule of law.
EU has raised concern over the alleged violations of human rights and rule of law amid the government's bloody war on illegal drugs.
Jessen said EU has to dialogue and listen with the Philippine officials. "We can take issues step by step," he said.
In his message during the symposium, Jessen said the issue of human rights should not be looked "as something between Asia and the Europeans or the Philippines or any other country."
He recalled that in recent history of Europe, the issue on human rights was actually one that divided it.
But now, he said it "is not something that divides us."
He explained that the issue on human rights should be looked at a "very straight forward and objective manner without looking that this has something to do with one country or another countries."
Jessen also noted that Europe is "doing good pretty well" as "not many people would talk about war."
"We're integrated with each other," he said.
Recently, Duterte disclosed that Chinese President Xi Jinping warned that China should not be forced to go to war with the Philippines by not insisting on the arbitral ruling and drilling oil in the disputed South China Sea.
The Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries, such as Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei, as well as China and Taiwan have been engaged in disputes over the South China Sea, believed to be rich in gas and mineral resources.
In July last year, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration favored the Philippines over its sovereign rights in certain part of the South China Sea, invalidating China's historic claim over the area. Celerina Monte/DMS