The European Union (EU) will continue to disburse development aid it has previously pledged to the Philippines, estimated to be worth around €200 million, with €55 million earmarked for the rehabilitation of war-devastated Marawi City.
“Obviously, what we want to do here is to continue with our development program as it has been agreed [upon] previously and do the activities we put [the] money [to] aside for, like Mindanao, which is a focus. Peace and stability is important for the Philippines, and the attraction it gives to European investors,” EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen told reporters on Thursday.
The 28-member European bloc is apparently unfazed by President Duterte’s recent anti-EU rhetoric.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano on Wednesday backtracked on his statement concerning EU aid, saying the Philippines is open to aid that do not come with “conditionalities.”
According to Jessen, the EU delegation in Manila has spent already more than a million euros in areas that don’t impinge on the Philippines’s foreign policy, citing a project to supply potable water to Mindanao.
The additional €55 million can be further increased to €100 million, depending on further cooperation talks with the government, Jessen added.
Commenting Cayetano’s sentiment on conditionalities, Jessen said the EU is simply encouraging the Philippines’s involvement in an international rules-based system, whether it be on environment or human rights.
“It’s not enough for one country, like the EU or the Philippines, to work on one issue like climate change. They have to work together with the international community that’s not just limited to their territories,” he said.
The envoy added that a total of unspent €200 million has been earmarked for other areas, such as technical assistance to trade.
According to the EU’s multiannual indicative program for the Philippines for 2014-2020, a key document setting out the general areas for development assistance of the EU, the indicative amount allotted back in 2014 amounts to €325 million.
The document identifies two key sectors based on the Philippine Development Plan (PDP): 1) inclusive growth through access to sustainable energy and job creation and 2) strengthening the rule of law through judicial and legal reform.
Other cross-cutting issues, such as the improvement of governance, human-rights issues, cultural issues, disaster-risk reduction and resilience building for the most vulnerable populations, environmental protection and conflict prevention are subsumed under the two broad areas.
The EU has long made Mindanao a core area of assistance through sectoral assistance like peace and security, in energy and health.