PH-EU TIES. Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III is set to fly to France to strengthen the Philippines’ ties with the nation and with the European Union. File photo from the French Embassy in Manila
MANILA, Philippines – Amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s denunciation of the European Union, 9 senators are set to fly to France to strengthen ties with the country and the European bloc.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III will lead the delegation on June 27 to 30. But he said some senators are already in Europe.
“Nine of us are supposed to see each other there. This trip is intended to strengthen Philippines-France relations, and through this hopefully, Philippines-EU relations,” Pimentel told reporters in a text message.
Pimentel, whose party PDP-Laban has been pushing for federalism, said it is also his chance to observe France’s “unique” system of government.
“Also chance for me to study up close and personal the French system of government which is unique, parliamentary with a strong presidential [form],” Pimentel said.
Eight other administration senators are joining him: Senators Loren Legarda, Panfilo Lacson, Cynthia Villar, Miguel Zubiri, Sherwin Gatchalian, JV Ejercito, and Joel Villanueva.
In January, 4 members of the French Senate led by Senator Gerard Miquel visited the country as part of efforts to advance cooperation and friendship between the two countries.
President Duterte has rejected a grant from the EU worth 250 million euros (P13 billion), with Malacañang saying government will no longer accept grants from the bloc that may “[affect]the autonomy of the country.”
Duterte has repeatedly denounced the EU for criticizing his administration’s bloody drug war. (READ: EU Parliament approves call to free De Lima)
Duterte said the Philippines can survive without the EU’s help but the Palace said they are still open to humanitarian and other kinds of aid. The EU, for its part, said it won’t beg the Philippines to accept its money. – Rappler.com