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Drilon fears negative effects of rejecting EU aid

Sen. Franklin Drilon

Sen. Franklin Drilon

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Friday said he was disheartened by the decision of the Duterte administration to stop receiving financial aid from the European Union (EU), saying it might negatively affect trade relations between the two parties.

READ: PH rejects $280-M EU aid with strings attached

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“I am saddened by the decision (of the government),” Drilon said in a statement. “The EU has been a reliable trading partner and their assistance, by way of grant or aid, extended to (our) country through the years has been benefiting our people particularly those in the impoverished communities in Mindanao.”

Drilon said he hopes the government has carefully studied the situation and “is prepared to deal with the consequences of its decision.”

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Drilon said EU’s support to the peace process in Mindanao has provided around 80 percent of the total funds of the Mindanao Trust Fund, a facility set-up by various donors to fund socio-economic recovery of conflict-affected communities in southern regions.

On the economic side, Drilon said the Philippines-EU partnership has resulted in billions of pesos in trade, helping to boost the economy and generate job opportunities for Filipinos.

Drilon also stressed that aside from the developmental aid, the Philippines are beneficiaries of the Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) that allows the Philippines to export 6,274 products to the EU at zero tariff, including the famous tuna of General Santos City. This makes EU as one of the biggest trading partners of the Philippines.

Drilon noted that before the Philippines was accepted in the GSP+ in 2014, Filipino exporters had suffered heavily from the declining trade with the EU, from 8.5 billion euros in 2002 to 5.1 billion euros in 2014. However, Drilon said “the decision might trigger the removal of the Philippines from the GSP+.”

“Once GSP+ is withdrawn, Filipino producers will be charged tariff rates,” the senator said. As an example, Drilon said a 22 percent tariff will be imposed on the country’s tuna industry.

Drilon said that he does not believe that the EU will interfere in the country’s internal affairs, saying that “the Philippines and EU’s long standing partnership has always been based on mutual respect and cooperation.”

“We are just being asked to adhere to our treaty obligations and they did not come from the EU but from the treaties that we have signed and ratified,” Drilon concluded. JPV/rga

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TAGS: Drilon, Duterte Administration, EU aid, financial aid, Senate
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