MANILA — The Philippine government does not see any reason the European Union (EU) would revoke the trade perks it granted to Manila, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said Friday.
“So far, we are able to explain objectively the Philippines side on issues that are raised and we don’t see any reason why our GSP+ privilege will be withdrawn,” he said in a statement.
In a resolution released Thursday, the European Parliament called on the European Commission to immediately initiate the procedure to temporarily revoke the Philippines’ GSP+ status over the alleged “seriousness of the human rights violations” in the country.
Lopez underscored that an inter-agency working group is in place to respond accordingly to various issues if and when they are officially raised by the EU Commission.
“The EU Commission has a mechanism in place and process to follow to verify issues before sanctions are imposed,” he said.
The GSP+ or the Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus is an EU program, which allows countries to export eligible products to EU states duty-free.
The bloc evaluates the country’s compliance with the International Labour Organisation and United Nations Human Rights conventions, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, meanwhile, believes the European Parliament is “misinformed” and called on the country’s foreign posts abroad to “double effort” in cascading information that democracy is “alive” in the Philippines.
At the same time, he admitted that the proposed move would hit the Philippines hard should EU push through as it still combats the spread of Covid-19.
“Talagang magiging masama iyan sa ating bayan. Sa panahon ng pandemya na nagkaroon po tayo ng economic contraction na 6.5 at inaasahan na mas liliit pa rin ang ating ekonomiya dahil sa Covid-19, talagang magpapahirap pa po lalo ang planong gawin ng Europe na i-suspend iyong ating GSP privilege (It will be bad for the country. At this time of pandemic, we had an economic contraction at 6.5, which is expected to decrease due to Covid-19. The plan of Europe to suspend our GSP privilege will really affect us),” he said.
“Kung gusto po nila iyan, wala po tayong magagawa. Hayaan po nating panoorin nila na lalong maghirap ang sambayanang Pilipino (If that’s what they want, what can we do? Let them watch as the Filipino people suffer even more),” he said. (PNA)