Angara downplays reported warning of int'l delegates on drug war

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 11 2017 03:40 PM

MANILA - European parliamentarians are willing to help the Philippines solve the drug problem and support counter-terrorism efforts. 

Former Senate President Edgardo Angara, Manila's special envoy to the European Union (EU), said this Wednesday following a report that a 7-member delegation of international parliamentarians, including Europeans, had warned of trade consequences if the Philippines fails to uphold the bloc's human rights standards. 

Angara, part of a Philippine delegation that held a 3-day visit to Brussels in September to engage with EU legislators, said the group of parliamentarians that just came from Manila does not represent the EU parliament's governing majority. 

"In all the meetings (between Filipino and European officials in Brussels), the EU representatives invariably asked how the EU can help the Philippines cope with the drug crisis and fight ISIS (Islamic State)," Angara said in a statement. 

The Philippine delegation received "no moralizing or lecturing" from the Europeans, Angara said, and "the atmosphere was civil and the tone cooperative." 

"None of the gloomy predictions the 7-member delegation said in Manila was ever suggested at all in Brussels. And the MEP (Members of the Parliament) among the 7-member delegation do not represent the governing majority in the EU Parliament," he said.

Those who joined the parliamentarians' Manila visit on Oct. 8 and 9 were members of the Progressive Alliance from Sweden, Germany, Italy, Australia and the US. It also included a German member of the European Parliament. 

The EU Delegation to the Philippines distanced itself from the parliamentarians' visit, saying it had no involvement in the trip.

"It is therefore not correct to label the visit an 'EU mission' and we kindly ask publications which have done so to rectify this mistake," the EU Delegation said in a statement, in reference to a newspaper report. 

Angara, who visited Brussels with Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, also clarified that all parliamentarians they spoke with during their trip welcomed the Philippines' openness to dialogue and consultations. 

"They expressed much appreciation for President [Rodrigo] Duterte’s initiative to set up a monitoring center and the invitation he extended to European Council President Donald Tusk to attend the Leaders’ Summit in Manila in November," Angara said.

The EU earlier criticized President Duterte's anti-narcotics war, citing the more than 3,000 deaths in anti-drug operations and alleged human rights violations in the country. 

Duterte, in response, had repeatedly blasted the EU in his speeches, saying the international body does not understand Manila's drug problem.

In May, the government announced it declined 250 million Euros (P13.89 billion) in fresh grants from the EU.