The Philippines has formally rejected 6.1 million Euros — more than 380 million pesos — in aid from the European Union.
This was confirmed by EU Ambassador to the Philippines, Franz Jessen, today (Wednesday, January 24).
Mr Jessen said the documents for the aid were supposed to have been signed in December, but were instead returned unsigned.
He added that a further 2.4 billion pesos in sustainable energy projects may also be rejected by the government.
The Malacañang has not yet issued any comment on the issue.
In an interview with CNN Philippines earlier this month, Mr Jessen said the EU was “here for the people of the Philippines”.
“So the development agenda is not political, but is something that goes to the poor segments of the society,” he added.
He also emphasised that the EU often sent humanitarian support for those in need, such as in war-torn Marawi City, where it gifted 33 million pesos for rehabilitation.
The EU ambassador added that the organisation’s strong economic ties with the Philippines, being the country’s second biggest export market.
“I hope that some of the political misunderstandings will gradually be erased. I’m probably a bit concerned about our development assistance because I think it’s a shame if it’s being reduced,” he added.
In May last year, the Malacañang said the country would reject any foreign aid that imposed conditions on the country.
The then-presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said: “When the aid begins to impose certain conditionalities that will interfere with the way we handle things, then we consider that objectionable.”
In November, President Duterte reaffirmed that the country would not accept any aid from the EU that came with pre-conditions.
“Keep your money. Do not meddle with the sovereignty of my country. Do not impose conditions. We are not rich, we are poor. But we do not bargain dignity by accepting money with conditionalities that are not really acceptable to us,” he said.
Relations between president Duterte and the EU have long been strained over criticism of his war on drugs. In October, we reported how he threatened to expel all EU diplomats from the Philippines.