NO OR­DER TO EX­PEL EU EN­VOYS, SAYS PALACE

Mala­cañang clar­i­fies Pres­i­dent Duterte’s threat to kick EU am­bas­sadors out of the coun­try in 24 hours, say­ing he was just re­act­ing to what he had read in the me­dia.

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE - STORY BY LEI LAB. SAL AVE RR IA AND MAR­LON RAM OS

There are no plans to ex­pel am­bas­sadors from Euro­pean Union (EU) mem­bers, ac­cord­ing to pres­i­den­tial spokesper­son Ernesto Abella, clar­i­fy­ing that Pres­i­dent Duterte’s tirades against the Euro­pean Union this week were meant for a for­eign del­e­ga­tion that in­cluded sev­eral Euro­pean par­lia­men­tar­i­ans who had ex­pressed con­cerns about hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions in the Philip­pines’ war on drugs.

“There is no di­rec­tive to do that,” Abella told re­porters on Fri­day, adding that Mr. Duterte’s state­ments were “be­ing clar­i­fied di­rectly to per­sons con­cerned.”

The Pres­i­dent on Thurs­day blasted the Euro­pean Union for sup­pos­edly call­ing for the Philip­pines’ ouster from the United Na­tions and told it not to in­ter­fere in the coun­try’s do­mes­tic af­fairs.

The Pres­i­dent also said he could cut diplo­matic ties with EU mem­bers and their am­bas­sadors would have to leave the coun­try in 24 hours.

“You think we are a bunch of mo­rons here? You are the one. Now the am­bas­sadors of those coun­tries lis­ten­ing now, tell me, be­cause we can have the diplo- matic chan­nel cut to­mor­row. You leave my coun­try in 24 hours, all, all of you,” Duterte said in his speech at the re­launch­ing of the Mala­cañang press brief­ing room.

An in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights group and a mis­sion of in­ter­na­tional par­lia­men­tar­i­ans and civil so­ci­ety lead­ers on Mon­day warned that the Philip­pines faced UN and EU sanc­tions if the gov­ern­ment failed to stop the killing of drug sus­pects and al­low an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the war on drugs.

The del­e­ga­tion in­cluded seven mem­bers of the Pro­gres­sive Al­liance and the Party of Euro­pean So­cial­ists.

‘Gross mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion’

On Wed­nes­day, the In­quirer pub­lished a state­ment by for­mer Se­nate Pres­i­dent Edgardo An­gara, the Pres­i­dent’s spe­cial en­voy to the Euro­pean Union, dis­put­ing the state­ment of the del­e­ga­tion as a “gross mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion,” adding they do not rep­re­sent the gov­ern­ing ma­jor­ity in the EU Par­lia­ment.

The next day the In­quirer also quoted the Euro­pean Union say­ing the del­e­ga­tion’s state­ments “were made solely on be­half of the Pro­gres­sive Al­liance and do not re­flect the po­si­tion of the Euro­pean Union.”

The EU state­ment fur­ther said: “The Euro­pean Union had no in­volve­ment what­so­ever in the visit of the seven-mem­ber del­e­ga­tion of the In­ter­na­tional Del­e­gates of the Pro­gres­sive Al­liance which took place on Oct. 8 to 9 in Manila.”

In ex­plain­ing the Pres­i­dent’s state­ments, Abella said Mr. Duterte just re­acted to what he had read.

“So, the Pres­i­dent re­acted as any leader would when na­tional sovereignty is vi­o­lated. So, we call upon also for the me­dia to heed his re­quest, too, for cor­rect reportage,” he said.

The seven-mem­ber mis­sion, how­ever, did not call for the ex­pul­sion of the Philip­pines from the United Na­tions. What the del­e­ga­tion mem­bers said was the Philip­pines could lose a trade deal that al­lowed its prod­ucts duty-free ac­cess to the Euro­pean Union if it failed to stop the killings and the “po­lit­i­cal per­se­cu­tion” of the Pres­i­dent’s crit­ics.

It was the New York-based Hu­man Rights Watch that had warned of the Philip­pines’ pos­si­ble loss of mem­ber­ship, not in the United Na­tions but in its rights body, if the gov­ern­ment con­tin­ued to refuse to al­low an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion of killings in the coun­try.

Se­nate Pres­i­dent Aquilino “Koko” Pi­mentel III said Mr. Duterte’s rant was just “an out­burst” that should be taken “in con­text.”

The Depart­ment of For­eign Af­fairs (DFA) kept mum on a pos­si­ble diplo­matic flap with the Euro­pean Union and its mem­ber-states as a re­sult of the Pres­i­dent’s out­burst.

Re­fer to Abella’s state­ments

“Kindly re­fer to Abella’s state­ments on the is­sue,” DFA spokesper­son Robe­spierre Bo­li­var said in a brief re­ply to an In­quirer query on the mat­ter.

Trade and In­dus­try Sec­re­tary Ramon Lopez said the Euro­pean Union ac­tu­ally wanted to help the Philip­pines fight drugs and was col­lab­o­ra­tive in­stead of crit­i­cal to­ward the coun­try.

“They were not the lec­tur­ing type,” Lopez told re­porters. “Their ap­proach is, ‘ How can we help?’ not, ‘Why are you do­ing this?’”

“They were ac­tu­ally say­ing, ‘Tell us how we can help.’ That was what they were say­ing as we were de­scrib­ing the anti-il­le­gal drug cam­paign, for ex­am­ple, and all these is­sues,” he said. “Af­ter we’ve ex­plained, given them the cor­rect set of num­bers, they’re telling us, ‘How can we help?’”

He said he and An­gara had told the EU of­fi­cials that they ap­pre­ci­ated the of­fer.

The Pro­gres­sive Al­liance that sent a del­e­ga­tion to Manila early this week is an in­ter­na­tional net­work of about 130 so­cial demo­cratic and so­cial­ist par­ties and groups, in­clud­ing trade unions and youth or­ga­ni­za­tions, that pro­mote jus­tice, free­dom and sol­i­dar­ity around the world.

Ac­cord­ing to its web­site, the Party of Euro­pean So­cial­ists in­cludes so­cial­ist, so­cial demo­cratic, la­bor and demo­cratic par­ties from the Euro­pean Union and Nor­way that fight for a “bet­ter and more pro­gres­sive Europe.” It has 33 full mem­bers, 13 as­so­ciate and 12 ob­server par­ties.

The del­e­ga­tion that vis­ited Manila in­cluded Kon­stantin Woinoff (co­or­di­na­tor, Pro­gres­sive Al­liance), Gi­a­como Filibeck (deputy sec­re­tary gen­eral, Party of Euro­pean So­cial­ists), Emilia Töyrä (mem­ber of par­lia­ment, Swe­den), Thomas O. Melia (deputy as­sis­tant sec­re­tary of state for democ­racy and hu­man rights in the Barack Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion), Arne Li­etz (mem­ber of Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, S&D Group), Conny Reuter (sec­re­tary gen­eral, Sol­i­dar) and Ben Max­field (Aus­tralian La­bor Party).

—JOAN BONDOC

An an­gry Pres­i­dent Duterte lashes out at the Euro­pean Union in Thurs­day’s speech in Mala­cañang.

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