Duterte rejects EU aid yet again: Forget it, we will survive

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 14) — After a summit with the European Union (EU), President Rodrigo Duterte maintained the Philippines will refuse any aid from the regional bloc.

When asked if he talked to European Council President Donald Tusk about possible donations from the EU, which he had repeatedly rejected, Duterte only had harsh words.

“Forget it. We will survive, even if we have to eat dried fish and rice, we will survive,” Duterte said Tuesday night in a press conference after the country’s hosting of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits.

“Just don’t f*** with my country about sovereignty. That is really an insult. I consider it as a very serious insult,” he added.

Earlier on Tuesday, Duterte met with Tusk during the ASEAN-EU 40th Anniversary Commemorative Summit.

“We emphasize the importance of the shared values and common interests that bind the two regions in a long-standing and unique relationship as partners in integration, such as the principles of mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality and territorial integrity for all states,” the ASEAN and EU said in a joint statement.

The President made it clear he does not want any aid with conditions, as he repeatedly lashed out at the EU for criticizing the drug war.

Related: Cayetano confirms PH no longer accepting EU grants

Even after the meeting with Tusk, the President didn’t budge. “Keep your money. Do not meddle with the sovereignty of my country. Do not impose conditions.”

“We are not rich, we are poor. But we do not bargain dignity by accepting money (with) conditionalities that are not really acceptable to us,” he added.

In October 2016, Duterte challenged the United States and the EU to pull out their aid to the Philippines after they expressed concerns over alleged extrajudicial killings in the drug war. He even dared them to take the “lead role” in the drug war if they can solve the problem “the civilized way.”

The country is set to receive €325 million (around P18.05 billion) in aid from 2014 to 2020 under the EU's Multi-Annual Indicative Program for the Philippines. The money will be used for sustainable energy and job creation, legal and judicial reform, as well as feasibility studies and outreach programs.

The EU also recently pledged up to a P6-billion aid to Marawi residents displaced by the five month war against the ISIS-inspired Maute group. Task Force Bangon Marawi said it will study the offer to make sure it is in line with the President’s pronouncements.

CNN Philippines’ Chad de Guzman contributed to this report.