The Philippine economy will suffer a “big toll” if the European Union's lawmaking body cancels its tariff perks over alleged rights abuses, a rights advocate said Friday.
The call of the European Parliament for the suspension of Manila’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) status will affect about a quarter of the Philippines’ exports worth $2 billion euros, said former Commission on Human Rights chief Etta Rosales.
The GSP+ status allows the Philippines to export to the EU without duties or with reduced tariffs. It is pre-conditioned on compliance with international agreements, including those on human rights.
“That is going to be a big, big toll on our economy that is suffering right now,” Rosales told ANC. “Our economy is going to suffer in exports… The Filipino people cannot afford that.”
She asked economic managers and authorities to consider the suggestions of the European Parliament about the drug war.
“Think reasonably about the economy, about the welfare of the people,” she urged them.
However, President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesperson dared the international body on Friday to "go ahead" with the threat.
"Kung gusto nilang dagdagan ang pahirap ng sambayanang Pilipino sa panahon ng pandemya, so be it. We will accept that as history repeating itself," Duterte's spokesperson Harry Roque said during a press briefing.
(If they want to add to the burden of the Filipino nation during this pandemic, so be it.)
"We have hit the rock bottom by way of our economy dahil sa COVID-19. Kung gusto pa magdagdag ng pahirap ng mga Europeans at ikaliligaya nila, go ahead," he added.
(If Europeans will be happy to add to our burden, go ahead.)
The EU Parliament, in a resolution adopted Thursday, called on Manila to stop violent operations against drug offenders, renew the franchise of ABS-CBN Corp., and drop charges against Sen. Leila de Lima and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, among others.
In 2017, the EU had raised concerns about the human rights situation in the Philippines before the United Nations Human Rights Council.
In response, Duterte said he would be happy to hang foreign officials who oppose his anti-drug and pro-death penalty campaigns.
The coronavirus pandemic has dragged the Philippine economy into recession for the first time in 30 years.