President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday, Nov. 14 maintained that the Philippines will not accept any grants with conditions from the European Union (EU), citing his duty to protect the country’s sovereignty.
Earlier on the same day, Duterte met with European Council President Donald Tusk during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)’s 40th Commemorative Summit with the EU, hosted by the Philippines.
In a news conference after the meeting, Duterte was asked if he talked to Tusk about any foreign assistance that the EU may offer to the Philippines.
But the Filipino leader made it clear that he will not accept any conditional grants from foreign countries that may affect the Philippines’ sovereignty “even at the expense of being pictured as a berdugo (executioner).”
“Forget it. We will survive, even if we have to eat dried fish and rice, we will survive,” Duterte said.
“You do not bargain the dignity by accepting their money and they would make conditionalities that are not really acceptable to us because it trims on the edge of violation of our sovereignty,” he added.
Duterte has repeatedly lashed out at the EU and other foreign countries and organizations for condemning his anti-illegal drugs campaign over its supposed spate of killings and human rights abuses, accusing his critics of bias, hypocrisy and interference.
Last year, the Filipino leader also dared the bloc to pull out its assistance from the Philippines after condemning his so-called drug war. More recently, he challenged any western countries to take the “lead role” in the campaign if they can solve the drug problem in a “civilized way.”
Even after meeting with Tusk, Duterte remained firm that the Philippines will reject any conditional foreign assistance the bloc may offer to the Philippines
“Keep your money. Do not meddle with the sovereignty of my country. Do not impose conditions,” he said.
“We are not rich, we are poor. But we do not bargain dignity by accepting money (with) conditionalities that are not really acceptable to us,” he added.
Last month, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said EU officials gave an assurance that the bloc was not interfering in the country’s autonomy.