March 31, 2017
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez expressed hope on Friday President Rodrigo Duterte's tirades against the European Union would not affect its investment and trade in the Philippines.
In a forum in Quezon City, Lopez explained Duterte's expletive-laden speeches during the previous days were not directly intended to the EU government and to its people but to the EU Parliament, "to the politicians."
He said Duterte was reacting to those criticizing him and not to investors "because he knew the investors create jobs when when they invest here."
Lopez said Duterte's criticisms against the EU was similar to what he did with the United States, which also raised concern over the alleged extrajudicial killings of drug suspects in the country.
He said despite Duterte's attacks to the US and to former President Barack Obama, American investors did not leave the country because "they are banking on the Philippine economy."
"For us, they should not link business to non-business issue. In other words, they should not allow investments going to the Philippines to be affected," he said.
The EU Parliament recently came out with a resolution calling for the stop of the summary killings in the Philippines, release of detained Senator Leila de Lima, whom it considered as political prisoner, and not to reimpose the death penalty.
Because of this, Duterte became irked and called the EU as "son of a bitch." The President has also said that if he had a preference, he would hang its members.
There were reports that the Philippines might no longer be qualified for EU's Generalized Scheme of Preference Plus (GSP+), which allows the Philippines to export to EU without duties or lower tariffs, due to human rights issue in the country.
Lopez said EU has no decision if it would remove two-thirds of the Philippine exports to EU from the GSP+.
He hoped that EU would continue to help the Philippines because "precisely GSP+ was created to help developing countries."
He said more exports from the Philippines would mean more jobs and more legitimate businesses.
"Because you are a friend, the more that you should help," Lopez told EU. Celerina Monte/DMS
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