MANILA—Malacañang on Tuesday stressed that President Rodrigo Duterte’s tirades against European Union (EU) officials opposed to the re-imposition of the death penalty was in the context of emphasizing non-interference with Philippine sovereign affairs.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella made the clarification during a Palace briefing after the EU summoned the Philippine envoy in Brussels to explain the President’s “unacceptable remarks.”
Upon his arrival from his official visits to Myanmar and Thailand last Friday, Duterte blasted EU officials opposed to his anti-drug crusade as well as his efforts to re-impose capital punishment, saying “If I have the preference, I’ll hang all of you.”
Abella explained that President Duterte’s statement “was in the context of non-interference with the national sovereign affairs.”
“Simply, because he said that, you know, he felt that they were impinging, infringing on our own national sovereignty to be able to deal with their own situations,” he said while stressing that the President’s remarks should not be taken too literally.
“I’m sure by this time we understand that it’s more than being literal. He basically speaks about an attitude of, you know, emphasizing that we should be left alone to be able to do our part,” Abella said.
With regards to present relationship, Abella pointed out that the Philippines and EU still enjoy an ‘excellent’ relationship despite the recent developments.
“The relationship between the European Union and the Philippines is quite excellent. The European businessmen over here, they’ve offered rehabilitation centers which is socio-therapy based,” he said.
“However, the European Parliament seems to be creating its own brand of noise. But basically, if you are talking about relationships with Europe, our relationships are quite solid and economically based,” Abella said.