Aid with no strings attached?


Last Friday the newly appointed secretary of foreign affairs, Alan Peter Cayetano, made this statement with regard to foreign aid: “We will not accept aid from any country if there are strings attached, if there are conditions, because we are an independent nation, and we have an independent foreign policy.”

This statement echoes the Duterte administration’s recent announcement that it is rejecting all new foreign assistance from the European Union on the ground that the EU has been interfering in the Philippines’ domestic affairs.

The European Parliament has previously criticized the jailing of Sen. Leila de Lima, a staunch critic of President Duterte. It has also called out the Duterte administration’s conduct of the antidrug war for its seeming disregard of the rule of law, even as it warns against the administration’s plan to restore the death penalty and lower the age of criminal liability.

Indeed, the EU, the Philippines’ second largest trading partner and a major source of official development assistance particularly for projects in southern Mindanao, has been vocal in criticizing the administration’s resentful attitude toward human rights advocacy. Mr. Duterte has not bothered to hide his deep hatred for critics of his antidrug war. The other day, he publicly threatened to behead human rights activists who obstruct the administration’s war on drugs.