PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. Duterte’s office on Monday reasserted the Philippine government’s compliance to human rights concerns raised by the European Union (EU) Parliament, saying reports on alleged violations are nothing but “fake news.”
The statement from Malacañang Palace follows comments released separately on Sunday by the Trade secretary and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) after the EU Parliament passed a resolution warning of a possible withdrawal of trade perks for the Philippines due to the human rights situation in the country.
“It bears stressing that an existing dialogue mechanism with the EU is already in place, and we have expressed on numerous occasions our willingness to work and cooperate with the EU in order to shed light on the concerns they have raised,” Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei B. Nograles said in a statement.
“The actions taken by the government in this regard are a clear demonstration of our compliance with conventions on human rights, labor, and good governance, among others,” he added.
The Palace official cited the Trade department’s statement that “allegations on human rights and lack of press freedom are fake news, and those only give false impressions on the real situation in the Philippines.”
“It is unfortunate that the politicians of a huge economic block are the one destroying the image of a small democratic country of peace-loving Filipinos, and it is like bullying a small country,” Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said.
Mr. Lopez said his office has facilitated regular monitoring missions relating to the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP+), an EU trade policy instrument that gives reduced tariff to products from developing countries.
“This process is more systematic and organized in obtaining accurate information regarding the real situation in the country,” he said.
The next EU GSP+ monitoring mission is scheduled on Feb. 28 to March 4.
The Foreign Affairs department, meanwhile, cited those allegations “are already addressed by the landmark UN (United Nations) Joint Program for Human Rights, which was framed precisely to address these baseless allegations.”
“We therefore strongly advise EU Parliament Vice President Heidi Hautala to prove her information, specifically with the EU Delegation to the Philippines before she demands anything from the Philippines,” the DFA said in its statement on Sunday.
“Her disrespectful language disregards these ongoing efforts of the Philippines and the United Nations, and the mechanisms and processes that inform their joint efforts to advance human rights.” — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza