PH gov’t to reject aid with strings attached from all countries, says DFA chief

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AP Cayetano
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano. REUTERS / Romeo Ranoco file photo

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government will no longer receive aid from any country if the foreign assistance comes with strings attached, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said Wednesday.

“If there are conditionalities — and this is not an EU-specific policy, I cleared with the President — that will affect our sovereignty or give you the right to interfere into our domestic affairs, we will not accept that donation,” the DFA chief told reporters after attending the turnover ceremony for Russia’s military equipment donation to the Philippines at Port Area in Manila.

“If you’re going to give us conditionalities that will affect our sovereignty to give you the right to interfere into our domestic affairs, we will not accept that donation,” added Cayetano.

But closing the door on international aid with conditions didn’t mean that foreign donors would no longer be able to extend assistance to Filipinos, according to the DFA official.

“You can give it directly to the people. So for example, the U.S., they use international organizations. Even [the] EU gave some of the money to [the] International Red Cross,” said Cayetano.

The DFA official said that despite the Philippine government’s move to reject overseas aid with strings attached, he was confident that the country’s foreign trade relations, including trade with the European Union, would not be affected by the move.

“We agreed on two things, one to keep talking. Number two, to look for the way forward. So hopefully kung maganda ang usapan ng EU and President Duterte [If the talks between EU and President Duterte are good], then it’ll be a giant step forward but there are real issues that have to be resolved,” said Cayetano.