DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 27 March) — Only the Filipino people have the right to “judge and criticize” the leader of their country, a member-nation of the European Union (EU), said Monday in the home city of Rodrigo Roa Duterte, the Philippine President who has repeatedly lambasted the 28-member EU for its criticisms against his war on drugs.
“Actually, we are a country which never comments on internal and domestic issues (of another country). We understand that it’s the only Filipino people who have the right to make a decision about who is leading this country and as we expect others not to judge and criticize our domestic and internal developments, we will never judge and criticize internal developments of other countries,” Peter Szijjato, Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, told reporters.
Szijjato is the first foreign minister from the EU to visit the Philippines, particularly Davao City, where Duterte served as mayor for 22 years.
“Hungary attaches a great significance to the cooperation with the Philippines as a major Christian country in (ASEAN) region,” Szijjato said.
The Embassy of Hungary will also reopen in Metro Manila on Tuesday, after a 21-year hiatus, to allow for more dynamic developments in the bilateral relations of the two countries and to follow-up the event with a Hungary-Philippines Business Forum at the same venue.
On March 16, the European Parliament in Strasbourg issued a resolution calling for, among others, support to the establishment at the United Nations Human Rights Council “an independent international investigation into unlawful killings and other violations by the Philippines in the context of President Dutertes’ ‘war on drugs.'”
It also expressed concern for the House of Representatives’ decision to reintroduce the death penalty, and to closely monitor the cases against Senator Leila de Lima.
In response, Duterte addressing the EU in his speech before the Filipino community in Myanmar on March 19, asked: “why are you trying on us? Why don’t you mind your own business? Why do you have to f–k with us? ”
“Do not impose your culture or your belief in what would be a government in this planet. Do not impose on other countries, especially us,” he said.
Szijjato said eight companies from Hungary and six companies from the Philippines will explore trading possibilities.
Cultural, trade exchange
Szijjato and the Philippines’ Acting Foreign Secretary, Enrique Manalo, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Philippines’ Foreign Service Institute and the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade (IIFAT).
Meanwhile, Virgilio Almario, National Artist and chair of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and Hungarian Ambassador to the Philippines Ambassador József Bencze, signed the Cultural Cooperation Programme for 2017 to 2018.
Szijjato said the Philippines and Hungary will sign a cooperation agreement on the economic cooperation and agreement on economic and trade cooperation on Tuesday.
“I think these four agreements will ensure a very good basis for enhancing our bilateral cooperation,” he said.
He added that they also look forward to the cooperation in the field of food industry, water management, machinery, and agriculture. (Antonio L. Colina IV/ MindaNews)