March 28, 2017
President Rodrigo Duterte's statement of "hanging" the European Union members if he had a choice should not be taken literally, his spokesman said on Tuesday.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Duterte's statement should be taken in the context of "non-interference with the national sovereign affairs."
"I’m sure by this time we understand that it’s more than being literal. He basically speaks about an attitude of, you know, emphasizing that we should be left alone to be able to do our part," Abella said.
EU has summoned Philippine Charge d'Affaires to Belgium Alan Deniega to explain the "recent, unacceptable comments" of Duterte against the regional bloc.
In a press conference after he arrived from Myanmar and Thailand visits last week, Duterte slammed EU after its parliament hit alleged extrajudicial killings of drug suspects in the Philippines and called for the Duterte administration not to re-impose death penalty.
He has also rejected supposedly an offer by EU for a "health-based" solution, which according to him would entail construction of illegal drug stations in the country for the drug dependents.
EU has denied making such kind of offer, citing what it has been working on with the Department of Health and other government agencies was a program to support recovery from addiction while keeping families together and facilitating development of social and job skills.
Abella agreed EU did not make such offer. "I clarified this...the European Union itself is not offering that particular therapy program," he said.
But he added there was a European nation that apparently offered technical assistance along that line. He refused to name that country.
Despite Duterte's expletives against EU, Abella described the Philippines relations with the Europeans as "quite excellent."
He noted even European businessmen are here.
However, he said the EU Parliament "seems to be creating its own brand of noise."
"But basically if you are talking about relationships with Europe, our relationships are quite solid and economically based," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS
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