MANILA, Philippines – Newly appointed Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said the Philippines' "boycott" of conditional aid applies to "all countries," not only the European Union.
"We will not accept aid from any country kung may strings attached, kung may mga kondisyon (if there are strings attached, if there are conditions), because we are an independent nation, and we have an independent foreign policy," Cayetano told reporters on Friday, May 19.
"Ang parang sinasabi naman ng bansa natin: We will boycott your aid if lalagyan 'nyo ng kondisyon or you will interfere," he said. (Our country is saying: We will boycott your aid if you will put conditions or you will interfere.)
Asked if this policy applies to countries aside from those in the EU, Cayetano replied, "All countries."
"And to be fair to many of our friends, for example China and Japan, they're helping us a lot pero walang kondisyon (but without conditions)," he continued – even as China is accused of giving the Philippines loans in exchange for Manila's claim over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Cayetano made these remarks after the Philippines said it is refusing EU grants "that may allow it to interfere with the internal policies of the Philippines."
In his interview with reporters Friday, Cayetano said "the ball actually is now in the hands of the EU."
He wants the EU to tell the Philippines that "there's no strings attached" to its aid, and that they "will not interfere" in the Philippines' internal affairs.
Cayetano also urged the EU to show its support for the Philippines' law and order campaign.
The Philippines' new top diplomat said: "Para nilang sinasabi, rule of law eh. Pero pag may nakita silang patay, tingin nila hindi rule of law 'yon. So anong gusto nila, pulis ang patay?"
(They always stress the rule of law. But whenever they see someone dead, they think that's not protecting rule of law. So what do they want, for the police to die?)
Cayetano said he will meet with EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen "immediately" when he comes back from Russia, where Duterte will conduct a 5-day official visit from May 22 to 26.
"We have good relations with EU but it's going through a rocky period or, kumbaga (in a way), a rollercoaster ride. But we're in this ride together," Cayetano said. – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at email@example.com.