The Philippine government has decided to no longer accept from the EU the ‘interfering’ development assistance mostly intended for Muslim communities in the country.
The decision comes after President Rodrigo Duterte received billions of dollars in pledges from China under its One Belt One Road initiative.
“The President has approved the recommendation of the Department of Finance 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 spokesman Ernesto Abella was quoted by ABS-CBN News as saying.
“These grants pertain to particular projects or programs that have the potential of affecting the autonomy of the country”, he added.
The spokesman emphasized that the Philippine government reserves the right to accept or respectfully decline loans and grants from foreign bodies.
The government has also conveyed its decision to the EU delegation.
“The Philippine government has informed us that it will no longer accept new EU grants”, GMA News quoted Thelma Gecolea, EU delegation to the Philippines Public Affairs Officer, as saying.
EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen said that the decision to reject aid from the EU will result in a loss of about 250 million euros ($278.73 million) worth of grants.
EU granted the country 130 million euros in development aid from 2007-2013 and has pledged 325 million euros for four years to finance projects in Muslim Mindanao after the peace deal with the rebels was sealed by the Philippine government in March, 2014.
The EU Parliament, the lawmaking body of the 28-country regional bloc, has been a strong critic of President Duterte's anti-drug campaign and the supposedly extrajudicial killings related to it as well as the reinstatement of the death penalty.