MANILA—A leader of the House of Representatives on Friday backed the Duterte administration’s decision to reject conditional grants worth millions of dollars from the European Union (EU) as it impinges on the country’s sovereign affairs.
In a statement, House committee on Metro Manila development chairman Winnie Castelo said the Philippines upheld its national dignity by blocking off EU grants that compromise the country’s autonomy, which he said is far “more precious” than any foreign aid.
”Self-determination and sovereignty do not have a price, which was what the Duterte administration had shown in its decision to stop aid from the European Union that has strings attached that interferes in the international affairs of the country,” Castelo said.
The Philippine government’s rejection of around USD 280 million new grants from the EU was due to certain conditions that the administration said would enable the bloc to interfere with the internal policies of the country.
In declining the grant offer, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the Philippines has the prerogative to accept or decline any foreign aid or loan especially if it impinges on our independence as a sovereign nation.
EU has earlier criticized the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte for its aggressive campaign against illegal hard drugs.
Castelo said efforts to destabilize the current administration were heavily concentrated on the “bloated” figures on extrajudicial killings (EJKs), allegedly reaching past the 8,000 mark, linked to the anti-drug campaign of President Duterte.
However, data from Philippine National Police (PNP) reveal that only around 2,800 have been killed in legitimate police operations related to the campaign against illegal hard drugs.
The PNP said the homicide and murder cases were erroneously lumped together with the death figures which resulted in a bloated figure.
“The recent surveys showing 80 percent public support on Mr. Duterte show the majority perception that the President is making the right decisions to benefit Filipinos,” Castelo said.
The EU was the Philippines’ eighth biggest source of official development assistance and grants in 2016, with aid reaching USD 217 million.