MANILA, Philippines – The European Union is set to give P242.4 million (3.8 million euros) to the government’s drug rehabilitation program, amid public lashing from President Rodrigo Duterte.
Stefano Manservisi, director-general for international cooperation at the EU Commission, said the funds would be released in the “next days,” pending the final decision “next week.”
Manservisi said the disbursement of the funds is the last component of the EU’s drug rehabilitation program, which is meant to help drug addicts return to normal life. The EU has supported the Philippines’ health reform agenda since 2013.
“We are now about to disburse P242.4 million (3.8 million euros), which is part of our budgetary support, which is precisely aiming at completing this drug rehabilitation program,” Manservisi said during a visit to Manila on Friday, March 2.
“What we are talking about is the importance, action, and program of the government in order to eradicate drugs and to fight trafficking. We are supporting not only from now but also from previous actions….We are addressing how to bring back to normal life the people who have been into these rehabilitation centers,” he said.
On Thursday, a landmark agreement called the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between the Philippines and the European Union (EU) entered into force to strengthen ties in “political, social, and economic matters, including human rights.
The PCA is “a general framework to allow better collaboration between the EU and the Philippines.” It was signed in 2012 and ratified by the Philippine Senate on January 22 this year.
In the same press conference, Manservisi said the EU would modify the standard texts of its financial agreements with the Philippines, to avoid reiterating the condition on the respect for human rights.
Duterte had repeatedly hurled expletives at the EU for criticizing his war on drugs, which he likened to meddling in the Philippines’ internal affairs. The Philippines earlier rejected at least P380 million (6.1 million euros) in aid from the EU.
Manservisi said this would not affect the EU’s commitment of P16.6 billion (260 million euros) in development assistance until 2020.
In fact, he said the bloc is still keen on pushing through with the sustainable energy projects in off-grid areas in Mindanao despite the Philippine government’s earlier announcement.
Aside from that, Manservisi said he discussed EU’s support for the peace process in Mindanao during his meeting with Special Envoy to the EU Edgardo Angara, Foreign Undersecretary Enrique Manalo, and Department of Energy officials. – Rappler.com
*1 euro = P63.8