The Daily Manila Shimbun


Palace asks for non-interference by EU

March 17, 2017

The Philippine government should be allowed to deal with its own problems without interference by other countries, President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman said Friday. Undersecretary Ernesto Abella also urged the European Parliament not to proceed with its threat to remove tariffs of Philippine products being imported to Europe. "On the possible loss of zero tariffs, we urge the European Parliament to reconsider its decision as we remind everyone, including international bodies, to allow us to deal with our domestic challenges without unwarranted foreign interference," he said in a statement. "While some may feel a 'sovereign obligation' to step into the affairs of another state, it is vital to recognize that the Philippines is a sovereign state, and that the people welcome the newfound peace and order they now enjoy. Our democracy works," Abella stressed. The European Parliament, in a recently adopted resolution for the European Union, has warned that in the absence of any substantive improvements in the next few months on addressing the extrajudicial killings, the Philippines might be removed from the EU Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+). "We strongly encourage the European Union to be more circumspect in basing their pronouncements and decisions on fact based evidence," Abella said. He accused the critics of the Duterte administration, "with deep personal interests," for "brilliantly" manipulating biased information locally and internationally by using willing public officials who are agreeable to lend credence to "baseless claims." Abella reiterated the Duterte administration does not engage in so-called extra-judicial killings. "It continues to follow due process and holds itself accountable for its actions," he said. Abella also defended the arrest of Duterte's staunch critic, Senator Leila de Lima, whom the EU asked to be released. "Senator Leila de Lima was arrested on charges that is criminal nature – not political.  Her arrest strictly followed legal procedures, and given the chance to explain and rebut allegations against her," Abella said. He noted that the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court  then found probable cause which led to the issuance of a warrant for the arrest of the former justice secretary.. Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, in a separate statement, said the European Parliament could not dictate on the Philippine government on what to do with its constituents facing criminal charges nor can they interfere with the judicial processes of our country. "Neither can they demand our government the performance an act. That is foreign interference. They should mind their own business," he said. De Lima has been arrested for her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City when she was still the secretary of Department of Justice during the previous administration. De Lima denied the allegation. Abella also noted that the drug menace that the Filipino people are fighting is on the level of narcopolitics, meaning illegal drugs trade has seeped into the system from the smallest political unit to the halls of Congress years before the Duterte administration. Duterte has kept on mentioning there are about four million drug users in the country and thousands of policemen and local government officials have been into illegal drug operation. (Celerina Monte/DMS)