THE European Union summoned the Philippine envoy based in Brussels to explain President Rodrigo Duterte’s “unacceptable” comments that he would be happy to hang foreign officials who oppose his anti-drug campaign and the reinstatement of the death penalty.
In Manila, EU Ambassador Franz Jessen slammed Social Welfare Assistant Secretary Lorraine Badoy for suggesting that the EU just engage in child pornography “because that’s what they’re good at.”
The EU also denied Duterte’s claim that it wanted him to put up “shabu clinics” where addicts could get their fix, similar to the “supervised injection sites” in several countries in Europe.
“This afternoon, the European External Action Service asked the chargé d’affaires of the Philippines, Mr. Alan Deniega, to come to the EEAS this afternoon for a meeting with Deputy Secretary-General Jean-Christophe Belliard, as we wanted to receive an explanation for the recent, unacceptable comments of President Duterte,” EU spokesperson Maja Kocijancic said in a statement.
The move came after the President again lashed out at the EU last Friday for criticizing his anti-narcotics crackdown that resulted in the death of thousands of drug suspects.
Without mentioning Duterte, the EU Delegation to the Philippines issued a statement saying it has not “suggested, discussed, proposed or considered the use of any substitution drugs when treating addiction to methamphetamine… or any other drug addiction in the Philippines.”
Contrary to Duterte’s claims, the EU said that they are working with the Health department and the Dangerous Drugs Board, in cooperation with the World Health Organization, in implementing a pilot program addiction recovery in select barangays.
In a post on Facebook, Badoy of the Department of Social Welfare and Development said EU officials who criticize Duterte should “just do online child porn” because “that’s what you’re good at, anyway.”
In a text message, Jessen said: “The issue of child pornography is extremely serious and a grave crime. It should be addressed in a serious and responsibly manner.”
Among the DSWD’s key concerns is the protection of children, including those victimized by the sex industry.
But Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo defended Badoy, saying that the issue “has been twisted out of context and sensationalized.”
“Asec. Badoy loves children and cares about their welfare, so to even imply that she trivializes the issue is unfair and misleading,” Taguiwalo said. “She is an outspoken critic of social injustice, and we have no doubt as to her stand against child pornography.”
Taguiwalo likewise raised that it is “unfair” to question Badoy’s personal character “because of one sarcastic sentence she wrote in her own social networking page.”
The Palace, meanwhile, defended the President, and told the EU not to meddle in the country’s affairs. It also bragged of “excellent” relations with the EU despite Duterte’s recent tirades.
Duterte lashed out at the EU Friday for raising human rights concerns in his war on illegal drugs, and claimed in a speech that the EU proposed “a health-based solution” to the drug problem that involved dispensing methampetamine, also known as shabu, cocaine or heroin.
He branded the alleged EU proposal a “government-sponsored idiotic exercise.”
He also criticized the EU for raising concerns over a plan to reimpose the death penalty.
“I will just be happy to hang you. If I have the preference, I’ll hang all of you,” Duterte said in an arrival statement after his visit to Myanmar and Thailand.
“You are putting us down. You are exerting pressure on every country with the death penalty.”
Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said the President’s remarks should be taken in the context of “non-interference with national, sovereign affairs.”
He added that Duterte’s statement should not be taken literally.
“I’m sure by this time we understand it’s more than being literal. Basically, he speaks of an attitude of emphasizing that we should be left alone to be able to do our part,” he said.
Abella said that the relationship between EU and the Philippines remains “excellent.”
“In fact, they offered rehabilitation centers, which is socio-therapy-based. They also have European businessmen over here.”
“However, the European Parliament seems to be creating its own brand of noise. Basically, if you’re talking about relationships with Europe, our relationships are quite solid and economically based,” he added.
The Palace official also took back Duterte’s claims that it was the EU that suggested that the Philippine government should put up “fix rooms.”
“I clarified this. The European Union itself is not offering that particular therapy program. However, there was a European nation that apparently offered technical assistance along that line, which we have not taken up,” he said.
Abella would not say which country that was, however.
“Let’s leave it alone,” he said.
The EU is currently reviewing whether the Philippines can still qualify for trade incentives that are pre-conditioned on compliance with international agreements, with a monitoring team arriving in the country for an assessment of the country’s trade perks under the Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP+).
The Philippines, which was given preferential status under the European Union-GSP+ in December 2014, allows the Philippines to export of some 6,000 eligible products to the EU without duties.
Also on Tuesday, Vice President Leni Robredo said she wanted to discuss the “palit-ulo” scheme with Interior Secretary Isamel Sueno, despite his denial that such a scheme existed.
In her video message to a side event of the annual meeting of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Robredo said palit-ulo was a scheme by which police would take a member of the family if a drug suspect could not be found.
The government has denied using this scheme in its war on drugs. With Rio N. Araja