By PNA and REUTERS
The European Union (EU) is ready to modify provisions of future financial agreements with the Philippine government to accommodate the concerns of the Duterte administration, which had earlier rejected its assistance for allegedly meddling in the country’s internal affairs.
Stefano Marservisi, director general for the European Commission’s Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO), disclosed the decision in a press conference Friday, after meeting with key government officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Finance, the Senate, and the National Economic and Development Authority.
“It’s about the alignment between the PCA (Partnership and Cooperation Agreement) and the (future financial) agreement notably on the equality in rights, to raise problem if any, in particular, concerning the respect of international agreements,” he said.
“This is something that we have to revise because it must be in conformity with the PCA. These are the articles we are working,” he added.
Despite“misunderstandings,” the EU’s funding aid to the Philippines would continue, Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said.
Pernia met Manservisi last Friday to discuss an electrification project for rural areas.
“We have a good relationship. Friends sometimes have misunderstandings,” Pernia told reporters after the closed-door meeting.
Manservisi, in a media briefing, said he also met Senate President Aquilino Pimentel and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez.
“The issue that our aid is rejected was not discussed.The issue of (the EU) being here or not has not been discussed,” Manservisi said.
“We discussed what we can do together, how we can do it.”
He also clarified that EU’s development assistance to the Philippines was not linked to any“unilateral conditionality”.
The EU official also said that the bloc had no intention to meddle in the country’s domestic affairs.
He said the decision was to address the concern of the Duterte administration regarding the issue.
“If we put that in this way I would say yes, of course, I mean we have never had the intention nor the action to interfere into whatsoever, you know, and we are certainly not, through the financial agreement.”
Marservisi said the adjustment they are working on will be the first to be implemented in the Philippines.
“With the Philippines, yes, but I think in general no because we have [had] other cases in which some components we have to change.”
The EU currently has a Philippines funding commitment of 260 million euros ($319 million) mostly for renewable energy development and rural electrification projects, which“can go on”, he said.
The EU could provide an additional 170 million euros or more in financial assistance in the future, which may include funding being worked out with the Asian Development Bank, he said.
Economic ties with Kazakhstan eyed
As the Philippines pursues enhanced economic partnerships with non-traditional partners, Ambassador to Russia Carlos Sorreta said it is high time for the country to develop commercial relationships with untapped markets, such as Kazakhstan.
“The Philippines drastically improved diplomatic and economic relations with Russia and it is only natural that the same is undertaken with former Soviet countries like Kazakhstan,” Sorreta said in a statement.
“Kazakhstan and Russia are both members of the Eurasian Economic Union and, because of their free-trade zone, our exports can reach one country via the other,” he added.
During a visit on Feb. 22, Sorreta discussed with Aryan Erenovand, chairman of the Chamber of International Commerce of Kazakhstan, specific areas of cooperation between what he tagged as the fastest-growing economy in Southeast Asia and the largest economy in Central Asia.
The envoy said that for the Philippines to sustain its high economic growth, it needs to develop commercial relations with markets like Kazakhstan.
He invited the Kazakh business community to invest in the Philippines, including in the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program of high-impact infrastructure projects.
For his part, Erenov agreed that there is a need to build closer ties between the two countries’ business sectors. He said Kazakh businessmen are very much interested in the Philippines and vowed to encourage investors to explore investment opportunities in the country, particularly in energy and transportation.