PH rejection of EU aid not a policy: Pernia


Posted at May 18 2017 11:46 AM

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia and President Rodrigo Duterte. File/Composite

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia on Thursday downplayed the decision of the Philippine government to reject billions of pesos in foreign aid from the European Union.

Speaking to reporters, Pernia said the decision could be a reaction from President Rodrigo Duterte after the EU raised concerns about the human rights situation in the Philippines before the United Nations Human Rights Council.

"We have to parse this carefully because our President has a style of doing something and then taking it back later. It's some kind of a tactic. If you read the papers this morning, Senator [Edgardo] Angara, the older Senator Angara was appointed as Ambassador to the EU," Pernia said in an interview.

"I think that is a way of mollifying or softening the impact of that golpe de gulat. He's fond of doing that so I would not take it as a policy."

"I think it is more of a reaction to the criticisms. He's very sensitive, and he usually takes it back later on, so I would not be worried too much."

The European Union confirmed Thursday the Philippines will no longer accept development aid from the bloc, putting at risk programs to assist poor and conflict-hit regions in the country's south.

Ambassador Franz Jessen said the decision to cut aid from the EU would mean the loss of about 250 million euros (P13.89 billion) worth of grants mostly allocated to Muslim communities.

Manila's move comes days after Duterte won billions of dollars in pledges from China after attending the Belt and Road summit in Beijing.

"The Philippine government has informed us they no longer accept new EU grants," Jessen said without elaborating.

The EU will issue a statement on Thursday, officially announcing the end of its funding agreement with the Philippines.

President Duterte earlier said European nations don't understand the extent of the narcotics problem in the Philippines.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte points to photographers during an awarding ceremony for outstanding government workers, at the Malacanang Palace last December. Ezra Acayan, Reuters

Official data from the Philippine National Police pegs the total number of homicide cases since Duterte came into power at 9,432.

Of this number, 1,847 are said to be drug-related, while 1,894 are not. The remaining 5,691, approximately 60 percent of the total figure, are still under investigation.

The EU has supported Manila's efforts to end a decades-old Muslim rebellion that has killed more than 120,000 people and stunted growth in one of the country's resource-rich regions.

It granted 130 million euros in development assistance between 2007 to 2013. In 2015, it pledged 325 million euros (P18.01 billion) over four years to finance projects in Mindanao after Manila signed a peace deal with rebels in March 2014.

The largest chunk, 225-million euros or 69 percent of the total, was supposedly to help the Philippines make growth "more inclusive and more sustainable" by providing electricity to more people and generating jobs, especially for women. With Reuters