MANILA — Malacañang on Thursday said that President Rodrigo Duterte approved the decision not to accept grants from the European Union (EU) but clarified that the policy pertains only to new grants that imposes conditions affecting Philippine autonomy.
“The President has approved the recommendation of the Department of Finance (DOF) not to accept grants — and this is not necessarily humanitarian aid — from the EU that may allow it to interfere with the internal policies of the Philippines,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said during a Palace briefing.
Without giving the specifics, the Palace official said the move was precipitated by a grant proposal from EU that carries a provision that is unacceptable to the government.
“A particular grant was proposed that had a particular item that we find objectionable… something that we do not totally agree with,” Abella said.
However, Abella clarified that existing grants from EU will continue.
This was confirmed by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez.
“We did not cancel any existing EU grants. PRRD approved the recommendation not to accept the EU’s offer of a grant of about USD 280 million which would involve review of our adherence to the rule of law. That specific grant, that is considered interference in our internal affairs,” Dominguez said in a statement sent to media.
Earlier, EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen said the country stands to lose around 250 million euros (USD 278.73 million) in new grants because of the decision.
In the meantime, Abella raised the possibility that the policy would not be limited to the EU alone as the Philippines has the prerogative to accept or decline any foreign aid or loan.
“The Philippines reserves the right to accept loans and grants that help attain its objectives of promoting economic development inclusiveness and reducing poverty, attaining peace within its borders and with its neighbors, and fostering a law-abiding society,” he said.
“It also reserves the right to respectfully decline offers that do not achieve these goals and offers that allow foreigners to interfere with the conduct of its internal affairs,” Abella said.
He said that this would be limited to to particular projects or programs that have the potential of affecting the autonomy of the country.
“For example, if the grant makes a provision for foreigners to interfere with our conduct of internal affairs, then we reserve the right to respectfully decline,” he stressed.
“So I supposed what matters is that if a grant has this particular item, then it will be declined,” Abella said. Cielito Reganit/PNA-northboundasia.com