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EU sees continued assistance to Marawi

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Damaged houses, buildings, and a mosque are seen inside the war-torn in Marawi City on Wednesday, October 25, 2017. — PHILSTAR/KJ ROSALES

By Janina C. Lim, Reporter

THE European Union (EU) is exploring ways to channel its assistance to Marawi City, mulling a scheme that does not involve transacting with the national government whose chief executive has rejected EU aid.

“Just because the government rejects aid from government to government doesn’t mean we have to do this government to government. There are several programs that we do around as private entity, we channel those funds through private institutions,” European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines President Guenter Taus said during a press briefing in line with the group’s 40th anniversary as celebrated Thursday night in Pasay City.

He added that working with governments, in general, “is not easy.”

“But if we put our wills and minds together, we can make this work. We are here to stay, not only as the EU chamber but also as the EU so we do find ways and means,” Mr. Taus added.

As such, the EU remains working closely with the Office of the President and other government agencies such as the Finance Department to help in the country’s rebuilding efforts fo Marawi City, according to EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen.

“There is a very significant need for funds and rebuilding and the EU is standing ready to assist,” Mr. Jessen said yesterday.

He added that the embassy is negotiating with the government to extend its support beyond Marawi City, which was under siege by terrorists last year, and across the whole region of Mindanao, having had a dialogue with Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus G. Dureza twice to discuss this broadened scope of aid.

Mr. Jessen had earlier said the regional economic bloc is wiling to give as much as 100 million euros or P6 billion for the rehabilitation of Marawi City.

However, President Rodrigo R. Duterte has thumbed down receiving all forms of assistance from other countries and international entities, including that offered by the EU, especially those deemed “conditional” such as in respect to recognizing human rights.

Mr. Duterte has repeatedly criticized the EU for meddling in the country’s affairs, particularly the administration’s drug war which has left a massive number of people dead.