Mindanao energy project shelved as PH refuses EU aid: envoy

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 24 2018 05:33 PM | Updated as of Jan 24 2018 08:06 PM

MANILA - The European Union on Wednesday said an 11 million euro (P690 million) project meant to provide sustainable energy to poor communities in Mindanao will not push through after the Philippines stood pat on its decision not to accept aid from the EU. 

The EU advised contractors that the project will not materialize following the Philippines' rejection of phase four of the Trade-Related Technical Assistance (TRTA-4), said the bloc's ambassador to Manila, Franz Jessen.

Two other projects worth 10 million euros (P627 million) and 18 million euros (P1.1 billion) were postponed indefinitely, Jessen said.

Last year, President Rodrigo Duterte said the Philippines would refuse aid from the EU after the bloc's repeated criticism of his war on drugs. Duterte accused the EU of meddling in the country's affairs. 

Jessen maintained that the EU was not interfering in internal affairs. 

"I don't see easily how this can affect the independence of the Philippine foreign policy. I see this very much as a technical program, trade program where we are trying to work together to benefit the two economies, and primarily actually to benefit the Philippine economy," Jessen told reporters. 

"It is simply something that is aiming to help the livelihood of some of the poorest communities in the country."

The EU will be sending a "high-level mission" by the end of February as a "last attempt to find a solution" on the affected projects.

Last year, the EU donated 570,000 euros, or P34 million, in humanitarian aid for families and communities affected by tropical storm Vinta (international name: Tembin).