The Philippines will no longer accept multimillion dollar grants from the European Union, as the bloc allegedly uses the funding for the purpose of interfering in the country’s internal affairs, Philippine presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Thursday.
Earlier in the week, Philippine Assistant Interior Secretary Epimaco Densing III said that the European Union threatened to cancel 27 trade agreements with Manila due to Brussels’s concern over President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial anti-drug campaign that have claimed thousands of lives.
“The President has approved the recommendation of the department of finance not to accept grants, this is not necessarily humanitarian aid from the EU, [but grants] that may allow it to interfere with the internal policies of the Philippines,” Abella said at the press briefing as quoted by Manila Bulletin newspaper.
The decision does not mean, however, that Manila will no longer accept grants from other foreign entities, the spokesman added.
“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,” Abella added.
According to the EU Delegation to the Philippines, the bloc allocated over $300 million to various programs in Philippines for the period between 2014 and 2020. In total, the European Union has contributed more than $1 billion over the last four decades to reduce poverty in the country and is one of the primary aid donors for the Philippines, the delegation said.
Duterte, a former city mayor of Davao with a crime-fighting reputation, was sworn in as president in June 2016 on promises to crack down on illegal drugs and put an end to drug-related crimes in the country. Shortly after taking office, Duterte launched a large-scale anti-drug campaign, during which police have killed thousands of people during anti-drug operations. The campaign has been widely criticized by international community.