EU committed to aid for Philippines despite rejection: envoy

Cathy Yang, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 30 2018 01:01 PM

European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, January 18, 2018. Francois Lenoir, Reuters

MANILA - The European Union is still committed to providing aid to the Philippines, its envoy said Tuesday, after Manila refused millions of pesos in aid from the bloc.

A delegation from Brussels is headed to Manila as the government's rejection of the P380-million Trade-Related Technical Assistance of TRTA left "a bit of a question mark," EU Ambassador to the Philippines Frank Jessen said.

Even without the TRTA, Jessen said the EU can work "directly" with Philippine government agencies and on a "case by case" basis.

"We have not closed any doors," Jessen said in an exclusive interview with ANC's The Boss.

"We will be pleased to continue the work we are doing in the past," he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte had repeatedly rejected international criticism of his war on drugs, including from the EU. Manila will not accept aid with conditions, his aides had said.

The TRTA was not signed at the end of 2017 as expected, Jessen said.

"We expect, at the end of the day, to continue much of our development assistance," he said.

Ties between Manila and Brussels are at an "exciting" phase under Duterte, who took office in June 2016, Jessen said.

"President Duterte is trying to take the country to a new level and that makes it exciting because he is trying to change things. He's trying to create a better, more dynamic Philippines," Jessen said.

Asked about the President's criticism of the EU, Jessen said: "What we look at, at the end of the day, is what are the policies. What decisions are taken how the relations are effected by these decisions."

Last week, the EU said the Philippines will keep its zero tariff privileges for certain exports under the bloc's Generalized Scheme of Preferences.

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