Snubbing EU aid due to human rights criticism 'immature': Hontiveros

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 19 2017 12:34 PM

Declining to accept aid from the European Union because of the regional bloc's criticism of perceived rights abuses under the Duterte administration is an "immature" move, Senator Risa Hontiveros said Friday.

"If this was a reaction to the EU's criticisms of human rights in the Philippines, parang ang immature naman natin," Hontiveros said in an interview on ANC's Headstart.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia earlier said the decision to snub EU foreign aid should not be treated as policy.

"I think it is more of a reaction to the criticisms. [President Duterte is] very sensitive, and he usually takes it back later on, so I would not be worried too much," Pernia said.

Malacañang on Thursday said the move was made to so that the EU would not "interfere" in the country’s affairs.

'CONSEQUENCES'

Hontiveros said the government must give more coherent details on the decision, supposedly recommended by the Department of Finance, as local businesses exporting to EU member countries may face repercussions due to the aid snub.

"Sa kahit ano mang relasyon, hindi ka puwedeng kumilos unilaterally without taking consequences," she said.

The Philippines is the only Southeast Asian country that has been granted a Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) status by the EU. This means exporters from the Philippines sending their goods to European Union countries enjoy "zero percent tariff."

The tax-free benefit may be affected after the Duterte administration decided to snub aid from the regional bloc, Hontiveros said.

"What was the basis of this decision? What is the foreign policy objective you want to achieve through this? Giving an opinion is not interfering with policies," she said.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez earlier said the Philippines wants to maintain its trade arrangements with the European Union.

'POLICY INCOHERENCE'

The lady senator said "policy incoherence" among President Rodrigo Duterte and his Cabinet members may affect the confidence of stakeholders and potential investors.

"You have many different explanations or many different attempted explanations from Cabinet members... Hindi nakakabigay ng kumpiyansa yan sa stakeholders on the ground," she said.

(This does not give confidence to stakeholders who are on the ground.)

"Apparently, hindi niya nakokonsulta lahat ng top people niya na dapat makonsulta bago gumawa ng napaka importanteng, komprehensibong desisyon," Hontiveros added.

(Apparently, Duterte has failed to consult all his top aides before making an important and comprehensive decision.)

CLEARER FOREIGN POLICY

Hontiveros also urged newly-minted Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano to provide more answers on the country's foreign policies.

"The ball is in the court of Sen. Alan to address how we will answer concerns... Ano na ang foreign policy stand natin sa human rights, sa pagpapaunlad ng economic relations natin with all regional groupings?" she said.