MANILA, Philippines – The European Union (EU) Parliament reiterated its call for the Philippines to act on human rights abuses, or else lose trade perks and market access under the Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+).
The EU Parliament on Thursday, February 17, adopted the resolution urging the EU Commission to “set clear, public, time-bound benchmarks for the Philippines to comply with its human rights obligations” and to “immediately initiate the procedure which could lead to the temporary withdrawal of GSP+ preferences if there is no substantial improvement and willingness to cooperate on the part of the Philippine authorities.”
The text was adopted by 627 votes in favor, 26 against, and 31 abstentions. The full text can be viewed here.
The GSP+ status grants the Philippines special incentives and zero tariffs on 6,200 products. Philippine products that enjoy tariff perks under the GSP+ include fruits, animal and vegetable fat, textile, footwear, vehicle parts, and metals.
To continue getting these trade perks, the Philippines has to adhere to 27 international conventions on human and labor rights, the environment, and good governance.
In 2020, 26% of the total Philippine exports to the EU enjoyed preferential treatment under the GSP+ scheme.
The EU is the Philippines’ 4th largest trading partner, accounting for almost 9% of the country’s total trade in 2018 (after China, Japan, and the US).
“Parliament strongly condemns the thousands of extrajudicial killings and other serious human rights violations related to President Rodrigo Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ in the Philippines. It also condemns all intimidation and violence against those seeking to expose allegations of such abuses in the country, such as human rights activists, journalists and critics.”
EU lawmakers has warned the Philippines of possible removal of GSP+ preferences back in 2017. The move was once again initiated in 2020.
The resolution also urged the Philippines to respect the right to freedom of expression and called for an end “to the persecution” of Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa, as well as other independent journalists like Tacloban-based reporter Frenchie Mae Cumpio.
The body likewise reiterated its call on authorities to release Senator Leila De Lima from detention. – Rappler.com