MALACAñANG on Friday slammed the European Parliament for threatening to withhold the Philippines’ Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) privileges that allow the country to export goods to the European market duty-free, if the government fails to end the bloody war on drugs.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said that it is clear that the European Union (EU) is interfering with the country’s domestic affairs.
The European Parliament on Thursday adopted a resolution calling on the Philippine government to put an end to the brutal war on drugs and remove human rights defenders included in the government petition seeking to declare more than 600 individuals as terrorists.
In a briefing at the Palace, Roque described the EU resolution as unfortunate, as the bloc again interfered with the affairs of the Philippine state, “rehashing issues and baseless claims” that have been explained adequately through several official statements.
“We reiterate that… the government under the administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte does not engage in so-called extra-judicial killings,” Roque said.
Roque also asked where the EU got its figure of 12,000 victims of extra-judicial killings.
“Where are the bodies? And where are the lawsuits of these 12,000 victims?” Roque said in Filipino.
He said the government received only a handful of complaints from families of alleged EJK victims and those policemen linked to summary killings are now under investigation.
“Where is your data? Where is your evidence that 12,000 people were killed?” Roque continued.
Roque said impunity doesn’t have a place in the Philippine and the government will continue to follow due process and hold officers accountable for their actions.
“The arrest and detention of Senator Leila De Lima on illegal drug charges which follows strict legal procedures has even been declared legal with finality by the Supreme Court of the Philippines,” he said in response to an EU call to release the senator.
Roque reiterated that the Philippine courts and the Supreme Court continue to function and not being influenced by politics.
He called on the EU to pursue the appropriate laws in their country, the way the Philippines does in implementing laws to serve and protect its citizens.
Roque also said UN special rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpus can submit evidence to disprove her links with the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army.
“We would like to reiterate that Corpuz case is still in the court and she, along with 600 others have not yet been declared or tagged as terrorists,” he said.
“We thus call on the members of the European Parliament to exercise prudence in issuing resolutions and suggested that some of them had close ties to the local opposition.
“This resolution comes at a time when the European Union itself has given us financial assistance to assist us in the ongoing war against drugs. I find it inconsistent that the European Parliament will condemn the war against drugs, which is now also being financed partly by the European Union,” he added.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano slammed the latest attempt by European lawmakers to initiate what he said were “unwarranted and uncalled for actions” against the Philippines, saying the move constitutes interference in Manila’s internal affairs.
“The European Parliament crossed a red line when it called for unwarranted actions against the Philippines,” Cayetano said in a statement shortly after the body adopted a resolution critical of the political situation in the country.
Cayetano said that the resolution of the European Parliament is based on “biased, incompetent, and even wrong information” and does not reflect the “true situation on the ground.”
“In case the members of the European Parliament are not aware of it, may we remind them that their recommended actions already constitute interference in the affairs of a sovereign state,” he said.
“As a sovereign state, the Philippines expects all members of the international community to respect the country’s prerogative to determine national priorities and policies that are responsive to the needs of its people,” Cayetano said.
He also again warned European legislators against efforts by certain groups to discredit the government of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“It is really disappointing that European lawmakers have allowed themselves to be influenced and manipulated by certain interest groups in the Philippines and abroad who have politicized and weaponized human rights as part of their efforts to undermine the legitimately installed government of President Duterte,” said Cayetano.
Also on Friday, Roque belied the Catholic Church’s claim that Australian missionary Sister Patricia Fox never engaged in political activities in the Philippines, showing a photo of her holding a microphone with Filipino protesters.
He said the photo showing the 71-year-old nun was taken during a rally on April 9.
Earlier, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said that Fox never spoke in any rallies but she only attends them.
“It seems the CBCP is lying, because I now have a picture and this is taken April 9 in a rally organized by KMU and Gabriela partylist in front of Coca-Cola Davao City distribution center in Ulas, Davao City,” Roque said.
President Rodrigo Duterte admitted that he ordered the Bureau of Immigration to investigate Fox, but did not tell them to arrest or deport her. The Australian nun was released after the Bureau of Immigration found she was not caught in the act of participating in political rallies, which is illegal for foreigners.
Fox was arrested by six immigration officials and held for several hours after she was accused of conducting illegal political activities in breach of her visa and of being an “undesirable alien.”
Fox denied the allegations and said the photos produced as evidence were actually taken of her during an international fact-finding mission into alleged abuses and the displacement of indigenous people in Mindanao.
“I have never taken part in political rallies but I have taken part in moves for human rights, land rights for farmers and indigenous people. As a religious sister we are compelled to stand by the poor and oppressed,” she said.