Philippines says it will reject all aid with conditions

A nationwide smoking ban has been signed into law by Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte

A nationwide smoking ban has been signed into law by Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte

According to Abella, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the recommendation of the Department of Finance (DOF) not to accept grants from the European Union "that may allow it to interfere with the internal policies" of the country.

The Cabinet official said he will discuss with other members of the economic team - Budget Secretary Benjamin M. Diokno and Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III - the matter and decide if they will recommend that the President retract his statement.

That decision by the Philippine government came on the heels of President Rodrigo R. Duterte's arrival from his second visit in China, bringing home with him billions of dollars in pledges.

In October 2016, President Duterte dared Europe and the U.S. to withdraw development funding if they did not like his war on drugs, which has killed nearly 9,000 alleged small-time users and dealers since Duterte took office in June. The Philippines' economic planning minister told Reuters that the policy could change, describing it as, "a reaction to criticism".

Jessen says that the government's refusal to receive support will be "putting at risk programs to assist poor and conflict-hit regions in the country's south".

"I strongly suggest that the government think this over carefully", she said.

Senators have mixed feelings on the decision of the Duterte administration to reject the PHP13 billion aid offered by the European Union (EU).

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said the Philippines can afford to lose P13 billion worth of grants.

At the same time, he tried to downplay the impact of the move, saying the foregone funds were not intended for major infrastructure programs and suggesting "we have to see that in a bigger context because we're getting other grants too".

Duterte has said the West does not appreciate the gravity of the drug problem in the Philippines, and made derogatory comments about both former U.S. President Barack Obama and former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon after they were critical.

It granted the Philippines 130 million euros in development assistance between 2007-2013.

Europe had been funding about 100 community projects across the country.

"With all this economic growth and demographic dividends the Philippines is enjoying, the economic breakout, there are opportunities here", he added.

The scheme requires compliance with 27 worldwide conventions, which include a commitment to never reinstate the death penalty.

In December, the European Union approved P200 million in additional funding until 2018 for the Mindanao Trust Fund, a multi-donor grant facility funded largely by the EU.

"It's not a grant and their commercial transactions that can mutually benefit both sides. Its a mutually beneficial arrangement".

"They have conditions, but there are certain items, for example, that we can not totally accept", Abella said.

Mr Duterte has also loosened the Philippines' ties with traditional ally the United States.