Cayetano backtracks, says Philippines open to EU aid

Paterno Esmaquel II
Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano contradicts his earlier statement that the Philippines is rejecting all kinds of grants from the EU

EU AID. Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano says the Philippines will reject only forms of aid with 'conditionalities that will affect our sovereignty.' File photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday, October 25, backtracked on his earlier statement that the Philippines is rejecting all forms of grants from the European Union (EU).

In an interview with reporters on Wednesday, Cayetano said that the Philippines will reject foreign donations that come with “conditionalities that will affect our sovereignty.” He said that this is “not an EU-specific policy.”

When asked if the Philippines will accept EU aid for war-ravaged Marawi City, Cayetano answered: “I already stated the policy. If there are no conditionalities and it will not affect our sovereignty, then everyone is free to help.”

He said that if it will affect Philippine sovereignty, however, then the Philippines will not accept the donation. “But it will not hurt Marawi or the community because they are free to give it to international organizations or to the community directly.”

“So the question should now be addressed to EU. Are they willing to give without conditionalities, or if the conditionalities are there, are they willing to do it through international organizations?” Cayetano said. 

Cayetano made these remarks after meeting with EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen. President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly lambasted the EU for supposedly meddling in his anti-drug campaign.

Cayetano’s statements on Wednesday contradicted his announcement on October 19 that the Philippines is rejecting all kinds of grants from the EU. 

On that day, a reporter even asked Cayetano if this involves all kinds of aid. Cayetano responded, “That’s my impression – so aid meaning grants.”

He confirmed that this move was the product of months-long discussions. He even said he will formally relay this decision to the EU ambassador.

The EU is the second top destination of Philippine exports, a major donor of the Philippines, and the fourth biggest source of overseas Filipino workers’ remittances. (READ: FAST FACTS: How important is the EU to the Philippines?– Rappler.com

Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.