The European Union says that the Philippines has rejected its development aid, thus essentially putting 250 million euros in new EU grants at stake. There was no immediate explanation for this position but President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier challenged the EU to stop its assistance after Brussels had warned that his country could lose tariff-free exports to Europe because of the killings in the war on drugs launched by President Duterte since he took office on 30 June last year. About 9,000 people, many small-time users and dealers, have been killed around the country. According to police, about a third of the victims were shot by officers in self-defense.
The EU delegation in Manila confirmed the decision of the Philippine government and the official statement announcing the end of its funding agreement will be issued today (18 May). EU Ambassador Franz Jessen added that the move had put at risk programs to help poor and conflict-hit regions in the south of the country. The EU money was also meant to target Muslim communities as the block has been providing aid to support Manila’s efforts to end nearly 50 years of Muslim rebellion in a conflict that has claimed more than 120,000 lives and displaced 1 million. Brussels granted the Philippines 130 million euros in 2007-2013.
The Philippines established diplomatic ties with all the original 15 EU member states in 1948 and then with the European Community itself in 1964. In March this year, the EU became the largest destination of exports from the Philippines with $901 million. The EU thus overtook Japan and marked a growth of more than 48%, making the EU the biggest and fastest growing export market for Philippine goods.