MANILA – Two lawmakers on Friday offered conflicting views over the Duterte administration's rejection of 250 million euros (P13.8 billion) in grants from the European Union due to conditions that may interfere with the country's internal affairs.
Duterte critic Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman of the Liberal Party said President Rodrigo Duterte has adopted a skewed double standard in accepting foreign aid or assistance, rejecting aid from the EU while accepting Chinese pledges of aid despite the “overriding condition” that the Philippines must not enforce decisions of the United Nations on disputed islands in the South China Sea.
Lagman said that while EU grants were historically delivered and implemented mostly in strife-torn Mindanao, Chinese assistance was still merely contingent.
Duterte's newly-minted Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan partymate Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo meanwhile backed the President.
"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 internal affairs of the country," the lawmaker said.
Castelo said foreign governments should first review the basis of their allegations on Duterte, as no proof yet exists that the president was either behind or had encouraged extrajudicial killings.
Castelo said partisan efforts to destabilize the Duterte administration have a lot to do with the bloated death toll.
"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 Delegation in Manila earlier said the rejected aid would cover new projects supposed to be implemented starting this year up to 2020. The EU has provided a total of 2.3 billion euros in aid to the Philippines since 1992.
- READ: Palace: PH only rejecting EU aid with conditions