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Pangilinan: Government should ensure support for EU-funded programs
Sen, Francis Pangilinan said that government should provide sufficient government funding for projects funded by the Europinan Union after the government refuised its aid. Philstar.com/File photo
MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Francis Pangilinan on Thursday said that the government should provide sufficient funds to support ongoing projects paid for by aid from the European Union.
"What government needs to do is to act swiftly and ensure that all existing and ongoing European Union aid programs benefiting our people in the local communities do not suffer when the aid is pulled out," Pangilinan, president of the Liberal Party, said in a statement on Thursday.
He added, however, that it is the privilege of any state to refuse aid from its friends in the international community.
The statement came after European Union Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen said in previous reports that the Philippines will no longer accept new EU grants.
"The president has approved the recommendation of the Department of Finance not to accept grants from the EU that may allow it to interfere with internal policies of the Philippines," presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella confirmed in a press conference on Thursday.
READ: Philippines stops P13.8-B funds from European Union
Jessen said the Philippines will lose about 250 million Euros ($278.73 million) worth of grants mostly allocated to Muslim communities, which are among the country's poorest, with the decision to cut aid from EU.
Pangilinan noted how Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said that he is not taking the decision of the Philippines to refuse aid from the EU as policy.
"Nevertheless, the EU’s expression of concern over the war on drugs, including the incarceration of Senator Leila De Lima, should not cause the Philippines to step back in our relationship with EU," Pangilinan said.
In a joint resolution in March, the European Parliament called on the EU to investigate killings believed related to the government's anti-illegal drug war.
The European Parliament has also called on the Philippine government to release Sen. Leila de Lima and drop what it said are political charges against her.
The government has countered that De Lima is not being held because of her political beliefs but because of drug-related charges.
De Lima, a staunch critic of President Duterte, is currently detained in the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame for her alleged involvement in the proliferation of illegal drugs in the New Bilibid Prison, which she has repeatedly denied.