MANILA – The Departments of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Trade and Investment (DTI) are in the best position to discuss the European Parliament’s recommendation to revoke the Philippines’ Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) status which provides tariff perks for Filipino goods, a Palace official said Monday.

Presidential Assistant for Foreign Affairs Robert Borje made this remark when asked if he would recommend a review on commitments after the European Union (EU) called on the Philippine to fix the human rights situation to avoid possible trade sanctions.

“It’s something that should be discussed between the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Trade and Industry,” he said in a virtual presser.

He, however, emphasized the need for countries and blocks to respect principles of sovereignty and non-interference.

“As we’ve said before, the Philippines is a country that partners with other countries and other blocks but it’s also important to respect the principles of sovereignty and non-interference that’s very basic in international law,” he added.

While a review on commitments is “always on the table”, he said there is also a need to acknowledge different nuances in the EU.

“The EU Parliament is one part of the EU. The European Commission in another part and it takes the entire machinery of the EU to make things happen. And it’s something that our Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of Trade and Industry will be at the best position to work on,” he said.

On the other hand, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque reiterated that the government could do nothing but accept the EU’s decision whether to act on the European Parliament’s decision.

“Kung talagang magpipilit na magdagdag ng pahirap ang EU sa panahon ng pandemya, nasa kanila po ‘yan (If EU wants to give additional burden to Filipinos, it’s up to them),” he said.

On Friday, Roque dared the EU to go ahead with their push to revoke the Philippines’ tariff perk for Filipino products.

Roque said that should EU push through with revoking tariff perks, they would be the ‘biggest contributor to the violation of the right to life in the Philippines.”

He, meanwhile, sought the help of Philippine ambassadors in Europe to tell the “truth” about the human rights situation in the country.

In a resolution, EU called on “the European Commission, in the absence of any substantial improvement and willingness to cooperate on the part of the Philippine authorities, to immediately initiate the procedure which could lead to the temporary withdrawal of GSP+ preferences.”

The GSP+ ensures that 6,200 Philippine products can enter the EU free of tariffs. (PNA)

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