Senators in UK to 'discuss, improve' bilateral ties under Duterte
MANILA, Philippines – At least 8 senators are in the United Kingdom to enhance Philippines-UK ties under President Rodrigo Duterte.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III is leading the delegation. They are guests of the British Group Inter-Parliamentary Union from Monday, October 23 to Wednesday, October 25.
Aside from Pimentel, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Nancy Binay, Grace Poe, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Loren Legarda, Sherwin Gatchalian, and Juan Edgardo Angara are also present.
“We are guests of the British Parliament. We will discuss the status of the PH-UK relations and find ways on how to improve it. Government to government, people to people, trade wise,” Pimentel said in a message.
Some senators earlier met with the Filipino community in London.
On Monday, October 23, the senators are set to visit the Parliament and meet with John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons – which is equivalent to the Philippines’ House of Representatives.
They are also set to meet Lord Fowler, Speaker of the House of Lords or the British’s upper chamber.
Unlike the House of Commons where politicians are elected by the public, the House of Lords is made up of appointed members.
During their visit, the senators are set to meet with other parliamentarians and discuss trade relations between the two countries.
On Wednesday, the senators are expected to observe the Prime Minister’s Question Time, wherein members of parliament are given the chance to question Prime Minister Theresa May.
The senators’ visit came amid confusions arising from President Rodrigo Duterte’s claims that he rejected UK’s offer of $18-20 million.
A Malacañang official surmised that Duterte might have mistaken the European Union for the UK, according to a source privy to the information.
Duterte earlier rejected 250 million euros or P13.85 billion in new EU grants due to the EU's alleged interference in local affairs, especially the drug war. As with other international donors, the aid comes with conditions, among them, adherence to rule of law.
The EU said it will not "beg" the Philippines to accept European aid, as there "is no lack of other countries" to help if the Philippines rejects its offer.
In a referendum in June 2016, UK voted to leave the EU, in what is known as Brexit, but it has yet to be implemented. – Rappler.com