No need to declare European lawmaker persona non grata

No need to declare European lawmaker persona non grata

MANILA – Malacañan on Wednesday said it sees no need for the government to declare a European Parliament member as “persona non grata” after threatening to revoke tariff perks for Filipino goods over alleged failure to address human rights violations in the country.

Hannah Neumann, a lawmaker from Germany, earlier called on the European Commission to revoke the Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) privileges that allow countries to export eligible products to European Union states duty-free citing how the administration has violated human rights and democracy.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said it was enough for the EU Parliament to know that the government will be “uncowed” and will continue to uphold its independence.

“I don’t think we need to bring it to that extent but the message is clear—we are no longer slaves of European countries. We are no longer slaves of any foreign country for that matter,” he said in an interview over CNN Philippines’ The Source.

He said no one can dictate the manner by which the government upholds the rule of law in the Philippines.

“No one can question our resolve to protect our people from the scourge of illegal drugs and terrorism,” he said.

In Monday’s house budget hearing, Deputy Speaker and Laguna Representative Danilo Fernandez asked Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr. to declare Neumann persona non grata to protest allegations made by the EU parliamentarians.

Locsin, however, said declaring European lawmakers persona non grata could hurt some sectors in the country. In a tweet, Locsin said he would talk to members of the EU regarding the controversial resolution.

“Nope, I will engage with the EU, the stable and responsible ones; there are quite a few of those. I don’t go for petulance,” he said.

EU Parliament powerless

Roque, likewise, described the EU Parliament as powerless, reiterating that only the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, is the authorized entity to decide on the tariff issues.

“It’s like really a barangay council, one asking the Department of Foreign Affairs through a resolution recommending the doing of something. It’s not within the functions of the European Parliament,” he said.

However, he said that should the European Commission decide to act on the EU Parliament’s recommendation, there was nothing more the government could do.

“If that’s really their decision, if they want to impose additional hardships on our people at the time of pandemic, go ahead if that will make them happy,” he said.

In a resolution, the European Parliament recommended the revocation of the Philippines’ GSP+ status over the alleged “seriousness of the human rights violations” in the country. (PNA)

Featured photo: Hannah Neumann

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