October 23, 2017, 3:43 pm
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Duterte blasts EU, but it may all be for naught

PRESIDENT Duterte yesterday gave the ambassadors of the European Union countries 24 hours to leave the Philippines and threatened to cut diplomatic ties with them over the issues of illegal drugs and extra judicial killings,

(The European Union last night clarified that a recent visit by some European parliamentarians who supposedly warned the Philippines could lose some trade perks unless the drug-related killings in the country are stopped was not an official delegation from the European bloc.)

The President, during the re-launch of a newly-refurbished press briefing room in Malacañang, slammed the EU for supposedly threatening to have the Philippines expelled from the United Nations (UN), expressing confidence that China, Russia and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) will reject such move.

“You want to expel us? You try. My… Euro, 1,000 dollars will earn P1 million from me if you can expel us from the UN…Now, the ambassadors of those countries listening now, tell me. Because we can have the diplomatic channel cut tomorrow. You leave my country in 24 hours. All. All of you,” he said.

Duterte stressed the Philippines would not allow anybody, including the United States, to dictate to the country.

He said he would reiterate this stand when he meets with world leaders who would visit the Philippines in November when the country hosts the Asean Summit and other related meetings.

The international rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) had initially warned the Philippines could be expelled from the UN Human Rights Council if killings under the Duterte administration’s drug war do not stop.

The UN, however, has not issued any threats to remove the Philippines from UN Human Rights Council or the UN body itself.

A delegation of international parliamentarians, including Europeans, had called on the Philippines to end drug-related killings, warning the country could lose trade perks with the European bloc.

Duterte, however, said the Philippines is not afraid of losing its trade ties with some European countries, saying that it could go to China, Russia and other Asean countries.

Duterte said the United Kingdom (which is slated  to leave the EU) has an $18-million to $20-million investment earmarked for the Philippines but he told Finance Secretary Carlos Domiguez III not to accept it.

“Sabi ko kay Sonny Dominguez, ‘Wag mong tanggapin. Mabubuhay rin tayo.’Anyway, I control the foreign affairs of this government. So iyung mga diyan mga noisy na…’the Philippine will go hungry.’ In your ignorance, you are not the one who’d formulate the foreign policy of this country. It is solely the privilege of the Executive department,” he said. (I told Sonny Dominguez, ‘Do not accept it. We will live.’ Anyway, I control the foreign affairs of this government. So those noisy people who say …’the Philippine will go hungry.’ In your ignorance, you are not the one who’d formulate the foreign policy of this country. It is solely the privilege of the Executive department.”

The President, who had previously blasted the EU in his past speeches, said the EU does not understand the magnitude of the drug problem in the Philippines and chooses only to dwell on the reported number of deaths of alleged drug suspects.

Duterte said the EU and his other critics had declined to acknowledge that there are also some members of the police and soldiers who died during the conduct of anti-drug operations.

The administration had also previously said that some of those who were killed in connection with illegal drugs may have been executive by members of drug syndicates.

Duterte last Wednesday signed a memorandum delegating the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency as the lead body in the war against illegal drugs. Yesterday, he expressed the hope that a shift to target big networks in his war on drugs would satisfy “bleeding hearts” and interfering Western states fixated on the high death toll in his brutal crackdown.

The European Union last night clarified that a recent visit by some European parliamentarians to the country where they supposedly warned the Philippines could lose some trade perks unless the drug-related killings in the country are stopped is not an official delegation from the European bloc.

“The European Union was not part of the organization or planning of that visit – neither the Delegation of the European Union in the Philippines nor the European Union institutions in Brussels. The statements made by the Progressive Alliance during its visit to the Philippines were made solely on behalf of the Progressive Alliance and do not represent the position of the European Union,” the EU said in a statement.

The statement, released after President Duterte threatened to break off diplomatic ties with EU and ordered EU ambassadors to leave the Philippines in 24 hours, added that the EU and the Philippines had been working constructively and productively for a long time and its cooperation covers a very wide range of subjects, including trade.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the President’s statement was an expression of outrage over the seven-member delegation of the International Delegates of the Progressive Alliance that visited the country from October 8 to 9 and “falsely portrayed itself as an EU mission.”

“This delegation’s irresponsible statements protesting the alleged killings under the Duterte Administration demean our status as a sovereign nation. The call of the President for EU ambassadors to leave the country in 24 hours must be taken in this light. For so long has our President tolerated these undue interferences in our domestic affairs, and he has decided that these must stop if only to preserve the integrity and dignity of our State as a sovereign nation,” Abella said.

It was, however, not clear if Duterte is withdrawing his call for the EU diplomats to leave. – With Reuters
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