MANILA - The Philippines must prove that it upholds commitments to the European Parliament as the latter called for a review on tariff incentives it extended to Manila over concerns on human rights, Vice President Leni Robredo said Sunday.
Malacañang has dared the European Union's lawmaking body to push through with its threat to revoke the country's Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) status.
Vice President Leni Robredo said the Duterte administration must show it has not violated its commitments to the EU as the GSP+ status the body gave was a "privilege."
"Tingin ko, maling reaksyon iyon, kasi ang dapat na reaksyon, sabihin mo na—ipakita mo na sinusundan natin iyong ating commitments. Kasi para sa akin, karapatan iyon ng EU kasi privilege iyon, eh. Wala silang obligasyon na ibigay sa atin iyon. Pero binigyan tayo, bilang privilege, dahil mayroon tayong commitment na mga susundin," she said in her weekly radio program.
(I think it's the wrong reaction. We should show we are upholding our commitments because it is the EU's right to revoke it as it is only a privilege given to us. They have no obligation to give it to us, but they did because we have commitments to fulfill.)
"At iyong commitment na susundin natin, iyong pagsisiguro na iyong human rights, iyong freedom of the press, iyong hindi pag-persecute ng mga political opponents, kabahagi iyon noong mga pinirmahan natin."
(And these commitments are to ensure human rights, freedom of the press, not to persecute political opponents. These are included in the agreement we signed.)
The European Parliament's move went through a process and it must have given several warnings before adopting the resolution, Robredo said.
"Iyong drug war pa dati, tinitingnan nila iyong violations ng human rights noon. So I would presume, kaya ito pinasa dahil dumaan sa prosesong iyon," she said.
(They observed human rights violations under the drug war. So I would presume, this was passed because it went through a process.)
"So papaano natin sasalungatin? I-prove natin na hindi iyon—na committed pa rin tayo. Pero hindi iyong sasabihin mo na, 'eh ‘di tanggalan!' Kasi kapag sinabi mong 'eh ‘di tanggalan!', sa panahon na ang daming nawalan ng trabaho sa atin, dadagdagan mo pa, about 200,000 jobs iyon."
(How can we counter this? Let's prove that we're still committed because if we shrug this off, some 200,000 more employment will be lost as we face a time of job losses.)
President Rodrigo Duterte has several times attacked the EU and said he would not accept assistance from the bloc because of its criticism of his anti-narcotics campaign.
The EU resolution had 626 votes in favor, 7 against, and 52 abstentions.
It cited the denial of ABS-CBN's fresh franchise application and denounced all forms of threats, harassment and violence against human rights advocates, environmental activists, trade unionists and journalists "who seek to expose allegations of extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations in the country."