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Misinterpreting Statements | CMFR

Misinterpreting Statements


JEERS TO the Manila Bulletin for misrepresenting the European Union’s (EU) planned shift of its funding focus in the Philippine health sector to programs addressing illegal drug use.

The headline by the Bulletin’s January 17 banner story, “EU backs war on drugs,”  suggested an about-face on the part of the EU’s criticism of the Philippine government’s war on drugs despite its earlier resolution released in September 2016 which raised EU’s concerns about the alarming cases of human rights violations in the implementation of the drug policy. The EU then called on the government to “put an end to the current wave of extrajudicial executions and killings,” provoking the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Its lead paragraph of the news story read:

“The European Union has now decided to offer its assistance to the Philippine government’s anti-drug campaign, particularly through the rehabilitation of drug addicts, after initially criticizing the Duterte administration’s war on illegal drugs.”

But such is not the case. On the occasion of the launch of the book “Ties That Bind: Celebrating 25 years of EU in the Philippines” in Makati on January 16, an interview with EU Ambassador to Manila Franz Jessen referred to the EU’s plan to redirect its funds from the Philippine health sector to support programs addressing problems concerning illegal drugs. But there were no details about the areas which the EU would support. Jessen also mentioned that the EU is currently working with the Department of Health (DOH) “to see how it can support the best practices currently being implemented by the government” to make sure drug dependents get the treatment they need.  It is misleading then to suggest that the EU has changed its mind and was no longer concerned about human rights cases.

The EU has been providing fund assistance to the Philippines on different fronts. “Every year, the EU supports developments in the Philippines to the tune of PHP3 billion,” Jessen said in a statement late September 2016. A bulk of the funds is allocated to the health sector and the justice sector, it said.

The Daily Tribune also carried a similar story, but it was much clearer and has a more accurate headline that reflected what Jessen actually discussed. (“EU mulls aid reallocation to boost RP efforts vs drugs”)


Twitter user @randomsalt called CMFR’s attention to this issue.