Sen. Franklin Drilon urges government to heed EU threat on possible trade sanctions

Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon on Monday urged the government to heed the European Union’s (EU) call to fix the Philippines’ deteriorating human rights situation and extrajudicial killings to avoid possible trade sanctions.

Senator Franklin Drilon (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Drilon warned the country could lose its preferential tariff rates for 6,000 of its products under the general system of preference or GSP+scheme that grants zero tariffs for the country’s exports to Europe.

“Just to give you an example, just the tuna industry in Mindanao, in General Santos—the tuna coming from the Philippines entering the EU enjoys preferential tariff rates so that we can start in competition with more efficient countries. And a removal of our GSP privileges will result to higher tariffs on our products, 6, 000 items, in the tariff code of the EU enjoyed by the Philippines under the GSP program will be perilous, will be lost,” Drilon said in an interview with ANC Headstart.

“We should look at this carefully because labor unions are saying 200,000 jobs will be affected,” Drilon stressed.

Instead of shrugging off the threat, Drilon said the government should instead look into the conditions objectively for the benefit of the millions of Filipinos who lost their jobs and livelihood due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“So we should take this seriously rather than have that bravado attitude ‘we can go ahead.’ I dread to see the day when they go ahead and carry out their threat—that’s 200,000 jobs on the line.

“We have already a very high unemployment because of the pandemic. You add another incident that can be prevented, that’s unforgivable,” he emphasized.

Drilon, and other opposition senators, earlier thanked the EU Parliament for its resolution condemning the human rights atrocities in the Philippines in the past four years and calling for a stop to the extrajudicial killings in the country.

They also welcomed the EU’s call for the release of Senator Leila de Lima, a vocal critic of the Duterte administration, whom they said was arrested for illegal drug charges, that is based on “dubious and unjust circumstances.”