World Bulletin / News Desk
The European Union (EU) wants to extend its aid for up to 100 million euros ($116 million) to Philippines’ southern Mindanao islands, especially for the rehabilitation of the war-ravaged Marawi City.
Ignoring the recent announcement that Manila would no longer accept grants from the bloc because of the conditions attached to this aid that interfere with the country’s domestic affairs, EU Ambassador to the Philippines, Franz Jessen, said the condition that EU wants is to ensure that the funds go to its intended beneficiaries.
'Obviously when we support say Mindanao, we want the money to go to Mindanao. You can say this is a condition, you can say it should go to Marawi,' said Jessen as quoted by Rappler.
'For me, that's very, very normal. We don't want that money to be spent on something else. We want it spent for the purpose that we agreed with the government. For me that is not conditionality. It's a way to agree to use this amount in development grants,' he added.
Jessen said that the EU had already spent under 1 million euros for Marawi’s reconstruction particularly on water purification. 'We will continue with our development assistance program as agreed previously,' Jessen said as quoted by the Manila Bulletin.
When asked to comment on the issue of the Philippine government’s decision to reject the EU’s grant to the country, Jessen said he met with the Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez earlier.
'At the end of the day, they are very practical people and understand what our development assistance is all about,' he said.
Cayetano on Wednesday backtracked an earlier pronouncement to reject all grants from the EU, instead said “if there are no conditionalities and it will not affect our sovereignty, then everyone is free to help."
Jessen clarified that their offerings, "are very practical, that don’t affect foreign policy, but it does affect the daily life of the people there”.
He emphasized that the EU will focus on job creation in the region and noted that Marawi’s rehabilitation will result in attracting more European investors.
'It is very important to have peace and stability for the Philippines and for the attraction it gives to EU investors,' he said.
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