Philippines formally rejects P380 million in EU aid

Ambassador Franz Jessen, head of the EU Delegation to the Philippines, says the Philippines has formally rejected 6.1 million euros in European aid. Photo by Paterno Esmaquel II/Rappler

By Paterno Esmaquel II/rappler.com – The Philippines formally rejected at least P380 million (6.1 million euros) in aid from the European Union, Ambassador Franz Jessen confirmed Wednesday, January 24.

Jessen, head of the EU Delegation to the Philippines, was referring to the EU-Philippine Trade Related Technical Assistance (TRTA) worth 6.1 million euros, or around P383.64 million.

Asked if the Philippines has ever formalized the rejection of EU aid, Jessen said: “It was formalized in the sense that we had, for example, the TRTA, a document that actually had to be signed by the end of the year. And that has been returned to us unsigned.”

In an interview with reporters after the weekly Kapihan sa Manila Bay, Jessen said the TRTA “was rejected at the end of the past year.”

The Philippines earlier said it is rejecting all forms of aid that come with conditions, such as respecting human rights.

President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly slammed the EU for supposedly meddling in his war on drugs, which has killed thousands.

On Wednesday, the EU ambassador also said the Philippines is about to reject an additional P2.4 billion (39 million euros) in aid for sustainable energy projects.

Jessen said the Philippine government’s objections have to do with the words “rule of law,” “democracy,” and “human rights” linked to the TRTA.

The ambassador said the conditions attached to EU aid, however, “are not specifically for the Philippines” but for the EU’s cooperation “with all countries in the world.”

“For me it’s a bit sad that after 30 years plus of development cooperation, we suddenly get into this situation. And the independence of Philippine foreign policy – I’m still struggling a bit to understand how we are interfering in that,” he said.

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