Table of Contents

Introduction

Since the Philippines and the European Union (EU) established formal ties in 1964, the bloc has become a consistent partner of the country, alongside its traditional partner, the United States, and its major Asian neighbors, Japan and China. The EU relationship was bolstered by the partnership and cooperation agreement signed in 2012 and ratified six years later. The accord created new momentum for Philippine-EU relations by enhancing cooperation on politico-security matters, trade, migration, and development, among other areas.

Statistics tell one story of Philippine-EU relations. Through trade liberalization under the EU’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+), which the Philippines joined in December 2014, the country generated an estimated 200,000 new jobs and increased exports to the EU by 27 percent in 2015.1 Exports have grown in particular in the food and agricultural sectors, and local communities in remote areas have been among the major beneficiaries of this trend. In 2020 alone, the Philippines received 23.4 billion pesos ($457 million) from British, Dutch, and French firms, promoting the country’s manufacturing and service sectors and helping them move up global value chains.2

Meanwhile, the EU continues to support the peace process in the Mindanao island group in the southern Philippines. The EU is one of the biggest development partners in Mindanao and in 2019 launched the Mindanao Peace and Development Programme (MinPAD) to promote inclusive growth, peace building, and community-based infrastructure in the region in line with the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals. MinPAD had an initial budget of €184.6 million ($202 million);3 it received an additional €24.5 million ($27 million) in August 2020.4 This financing is on top of continuing EU support for disaster relief and long-term development in Mindanao and the rest of the country.

The numbers tell a success story, but beneath lie murkier waters for the Philippine-EU relationship. The ascent of Rodrigo Duterte to the Philippine presidency in 2016 ushered in heated rhetoric and strained ties between Manila and Brussels. The outspoken populist denounced EU concerns about the Philippines’ human rights situation as interference and threatened to expel diplomats and terminate EU grants and aid programs. In return, members of the European Parliament called on the EU to suspend the Philippines’ GSP+ privileges in the wake of extrajudicial killings and the suppression of local dissent. Negotiations for an EU-Philippine free trade agreement remain seemingly moribund given the outgoing president’s hostility toward the union, with no meetings having taken place since 2017.

The EU’s traditional human rights focus in its external action in the Philippines centers on fighting governmental impunity, promoting the rule of law, abolishing the death penalty, supporting an evidence-based approach to illegal drugs, and protecting human rights defenders, among other issues. Such priorities ran counter to Duterte’s governance preferences and style, highlighting the divisions and fueling the friction between Manila and Brussels.

Florisa C. Almodiel-Luteijn
Florisa C. Almodiel-Luteijn is a lawyer and sociologist who works on trade, economic development, and social innovation. She is also a member of the Philippines-Netherlands Business Council.

Duterte’s denunciation of the EU’s alleged interference invites an analysis of the way the EU is perceived in the Philippines—if, indeed, the statistics and historical successes translate into appreciation for the EU’s involvement in Philippine affairs. The need for such an analysis is all the more compelling as early in his presidency, Duterte called for a realignment of Philippine foreign policy toward China, reflecting his preference for powers that are friendly toward his hardline governance approach.

This chapter explores the EU’s engagement in the Philippines as perceived by key Filipino stakeholders. The chapter draws on data from surveys, interviews, and, where relevant, the actions and declarations of the Philippine government, its officials, and civil society.

Current Perceptions of the EU

A 2017 survey by Social Weather Stations, a research institute, revealed that Filipinos had a generally positive impression of the EU as a powerful and influential global actor. The survey found that 40 percent of respondents had a lot of trust in the EU, against 21 percent who had little trust in it, giving the bloc a net trust score—defined as the difference between the two percentages—of +19 (see figure 1).5 The net trust rating was highest in Visayas and lowest in Mindanao, where Duterte is from. Respondents’ levels of education played a role in their trust in the EU: those with a higher level of education were better informed about the nature of the EU and the Philippines’ relations with the bloc.

Yet, surveys alone do not capture the nuances in trust levels, and each area of the EU’s involvement in Philippine affairs reveals the enduring tendencies—and recent difficulties—in the relationship.

Trade

To complement its development aid efforts, the EU supports sustainable economic growth through trade enhancement. GSP+ helps integrate developing countries into the world economy by removing import duties to increase competitiveness, alleviate poverty, and stimulate job creation. Similarly, EU economic partnership agreements not only grant participating countries access to the European market but also assist them in attracting investment and diversifying their economies. Last but not least, the EU’s Aid for Trade strategy supports partner countries in expanding their trade through the creation of infrastructure and investment in the agriculture, fisheries, and service sectors. These mechanisms make the union an attractive trading partner for developing countries.

After obtaining GSP+ status in 2014, the Philippines enjoyed greater market access to the EU, with over 6,200 products allowed to enter the bloc on a zero tariff. Exports to the EU increased by 27 percent the following year and have continued to enjoy healthy growth rates.6 GSP+ status also contributed to an increase in foreign investment in the Philippines. Manufacturing companies have established operations in the country to avail themselves of the benefits of GSP+, helping generate employment and contributing to the Philippines’ development goals. These firms cut across a range of industries, including electronics, agriculture, processed foods, clothing, and home appliances. As of this writing, the EU is the Philippines’ fourth-largest trading partner.7

Antonio G. M. La Viña
Antonio G. M. La Viña is associate director for climate policy and international relations at the Manila Observatory. He is also a professor of law, philosophy, politics, and governance at Ateneo de Manila University.

Retaining GSP+ status depends on the Philippine government upholding its international commitments to UN conventions on human and labor rights, environmental protection, and good governance. GSP+ was therefore at the center of a battle of rhetoric and resolve between the EU and the Duterte administration. From 2018 to 2020, the European Parliament passed resolutions calling for a temporary suspension of the status due to Manila’s failure—or refusal—to rein in erosions of governance and democracy.

The Duterte administration’s reaction to these resolutions was mixed. There was initial hostility from the president and his allies and spokespeople, and former Philippine foreign secretary Alan Peter Cayetano described one of the European Parliament’s resolutions as “[crossing] a red line.”8 But there have also been attempts to mend relations and maintain the GSP+ status as well as calls for a resumption of negotiations on a free trade agreement with the EU similar to those enjoyed by Vietnam and Singapore. In February 2021, the Philippine government convened the Sub-Committee on Good Governance, Rule of Law, and Human Rights under the Philippine-EU partnership and cooperation agreement to address human rights concerns raised by the EU.

When the Philippine authorities chose not to invite the EU to conduct an election observation mission to ensure a free and fair presidential election in May 2022, the European Parliament called on the European Commission to “set clear, public, time-bound benchmarks for the Philippines to comply with its human rights obligations under the GSP+ scheme” and to “immediately initiate the procedure which could lead to the temporary withdrawal of GSP+ preferences if there is no substantial improvement and willingness to cooperate on the part of the Philippine authorities.”9 The government in Manila called the resolution a “misguided attempt . . . to interfere in the Philippine electoral process.”10

Outside the government, both business and civil society value the country’s relationship with the EU, each for its own reasons. Business leaders highlight the importance of GSP+ to the Philippine economy. By contrast, civil society would prefer the EU to follow through on suspending the status—or at least exert greater leverage on Manila, as Jose Luis Gascon, a former chair of the Philippine Commission on Human Rights, explained in an interview:

With the threat to suspend the GSP+ privileges remaining just a threat, this has emboldened the Philippine government and the human rights violations continue.11

Indeed, many Filipinos view the EU as protective of its members and keen to look after its own interests by securing better trade benefits. The only difference between European nations and other capitalist countries is that the EU tries to balance its trade interests with concerns for the environment, human rights, and sustainable development.

Development Assistance and the Coronavirus Pandemic

As well as feeling the impacts of official EU relations, Philippine civil society values the EU as a direct development sponsor, whether the union works with the government or independently. An interviewee in the justice-reform sector revealed how the EU can easily adjust funding or realign unused funds in the projects it sponsors to meet other goals for the beneficiary, as in the EU’s humanitarian and logistical response to the coronavirus outbreak—at least compared with peers such as the U.S. Agency for International Development.12 Another interviewee said that this was not enough, however, because in addition to the need to procure COVID-19 vaccines for the Philippines’ population of 110 million, EU assistance is needed to strengthen the country’s healthcare infrastructure.13

The EU is the largest contributor to the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility, which benefits countries including the Philippines.14 This support is in addition to €2.3 million ($2.5 million) provided by the EU as part of a joint program between the union and the World Health Organization for general coronavirus response efforts in the Philippines.15

Neri Colmenares, a noted human rights advocate and a former member of the Philippine House of Representatives, observed that the EU could have expanded its assistance to civil society as an alternative to intensifying government-to-government cooperation. Colmenares remarked that “no matter how much help the EU gives the Philippine government, the violations [of human rights by the police and the military] would still be there.”16 If nothing else, this observation represents a lament that the EU’s best chances of meeting its development and human rights objectives do not lie with a government whose officials seem to reject those goals. Paco Pangalangan, executive director of the Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute, agreed with this point and suggested that the EU should engage more stakeholders and gather more representative data.17

Peace and Security

The EU has been a key partner in promoting peace, human security, and development in Mindanao for twenty-five years. While the linkages between poverty and conflict have long been recognized, the EU acknowledged in 2007 for the first time that the outcome of the Mindanao peace process would be a precondition for the EU’s development goals in the region, placing peace building at the forefront of the union’s external action toward Mindanao. In a 2015 analysis, the European Institute for Asian Studies described the EU’s initial involvement as that of “a development and humanitarian actor with a clear focus on poor and remote areas,” which inadvertently led the EU to Mindanao and engagement with the peace process there.18 The union’s support in the region of Bangsamoro, part of Mindanao, led to the passing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, which created the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in 2019.

The EU’s 2007–2013 and 2014–2020 strategic frameworks for engagement with the Philippines marked a pivot in the levels and kinds of attention the EU brought to the region. The European Commission’s 2007 strategy paper for the Philippines committed the EU “to support . . . the Mindanao Peace Process by contributing to the World Bank-administered Multi-donor Mindanao Trust Fund,” which was conditional on the “conclusion of a peace agreement or the achievement of decisive progress towards this agreement.”19

The EU engages with Mindanao at the levels of both the state and society “through regional and thematic programmes and instruments . . . implemented by civil society organisations addressing social issues, [the] environment, indigenous [peoples’] rights, human rights, local governance, peace building, and migration.”20 Engagement with the state comes through EU participation in the monitoring and implementation of ceasefires and peace agreements as well as EU support for capacity building in Mindanao. To that end, apart from the existing facilities and instruments committed to the region, the EU has approved new lines of financing. MinPAD is an economic facility to consolidate and strengthen the EU’s political and development cooperation with Mindanao through the normalization of former combatants and conflict-affected communities, poverty alleviation, and support for civil society and rural cooperatives.

At the national level, despite Duterte’s animosity toward the EU’s criticism, government officials appreciate the union’s involvement in and financial support of the peace process. In 2020, then Philippine finance secretary Carlos Dominguez III described the EU as a “long and staunch development partner of the Philippines.”21 Opportunities for greater awareness of the EU’s engagement lie in creative partnerships, such as innovative people-to-people diplomacy initiatives. These include the Cartooning for Peace project, which brings together European and Filipino artists to produce artwork that encourages peace in Mindanao and is published in Philippine newspapers.

Whether official or street-level awareness of the EU translates into a broader recognition of Mindanao’s strategic importance to the EU is not immediately apparent from official statements or the press, or from the research conducted for this chapter. It is likely that this perception is folded into a more general appreciation for the EU as a normative actor, or as a source of material support to complement the United States, Japan, and China. The direct beneficiaries of EU programs in the Philippines naturally appreciate the financial and technical support provided, especially if the programs involve interactions between EU and Filipino personnel.

Norms and Values

The Philippines’ so-called war on drugs—the government campaign against the illicit drug trade in the country—is a focal point of the EU’s external action in the Philippines and a source of friction. The most visible tensions have played out in the press, where the outgoing president or his spokespeople would lay into EU criticisms of the administration’s drugs policy and suppression of domestic opposition. At the height of tensions in 2017, the administration vocally declared it would not accept or deal with any EU aid. In 2020, Manila displayed indifference toward the prospect of human rights criticisms leading to trade sanctions.

This tension extended beyond the war on drugs to the government’s ostensible drive against a communist insurgency in the Philippines. The administration has long painted local opposition figures and civil society organizations as communists or terrorists, regardless of their actual affiliation with any armed insurgency, to swing public opinion against them and increase support for—or, at least, tolerance of—their suppression. Since 2018, the Philippine state’s campaign under the auspices of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict has increasingly used social media alongside official press outlets for such denouncements, which have often led to the deaths of those targeted.

The EU’s annual reports on human rights and democracy have consistently focused on the war on drugs. The 2016 report commented that “the human rights situation in the second half of the year has considerably worsened as a consequence of the so-called ‘war on drugs’”—albeit with the caveat that some of the salient features of the situation had been present under previous administrations.22The following year’s report contained the same findings, stating that “the human rights framework in the Philippines remained fragile.”23

As with human rights, the Duterte administration was sensitive to international criticism of its governance approaches, as reflected in presidential rhetoric and reactions from the president’s office. Notable examples of Manila’s treatment of opposition voices included the arrest of vocal opposition figure Senator Leila de Lima on what were likely manufactured drug-trafficking allegations and the corporate and libel charges filed against journalist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa. Members of the European Parliament called on the Philippine administration to release their fellow parliamentarian and protect journalists.

It is clear that for human rights and good governance campaigners in the Philippines, the EU is “a beacon for the rest of the world,” in the words of Gascon.24 Colmenares noted emphatically that concern from former German chancellor Angela Merkel and others about extrajudicial killings during the administration of former Philippine president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo had seemed to provoke the government’s creation of investigatory bodies to examine the murders: “These statements saved lives.”25

The Philippine perception of the EU as an alternative to other world powers, especially the United States and China, is stark. Interviewees valued the EU’s role, with ambassadors of several EU states having spoken publicly and privately about human rights issues in the Philippines; these comments have elicited negative public opinions of the government. The Dutch, French, German, and Spanish ambassadors—and their British counterpart—have consistently, regularly, and forcefully spoken out against the Philippines’ human rights abuses. These statements have given beleaguered civil society organizations the space and platforms from which to continue operating amid what is practically hostile indifference from the authorities.26

It was probably this consistent pressure that led to a slight change of approach from Manila toward human rights issues in the UN Human Rights Council. Previously, the government was defensive of its policies in this area, and its message to the diplomatic community was not to meddle in Philippine affairs. But in late 2020, the government’s approach shifted, allowing for the creation of a joint program between the UN and the Philippines to build capacity and enhance technical cooperation on human rights in the country.

Migration

The Philippines has the ninth-largest number of emigrants in the world, with 6.1 million of the country’s population working and living abroad in 2020.27 Of these emigrants, over 368,000 Filipino citizens were living in Europe.[28] In 2018, the Philippines became the fourth-largest recipient of remittances worldwide. While the Middle East is by far the biggest destination for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), a 2019 statistical report by the Philippine government showed that EU nations accounted for 7.7 percent of OFWs, placing the bloc fourth, after the Middle East, East and Southeast Asia, and the Americas.29 The EU also represented the fourth-largest source of remittances to the Philippines in 2017, after the United States, the Middle East, and other Asian countries.30 The Middle East and emerging Asian economies have drawn the bulk of Filipino migrants who have left their country for work reasons, while the United States is a traditional destination on social or family grounds because of the Philippines’ colonial history.

The EU has funded initiatives on migration and development in the Philippines and projects that help Filipino migrants in European host countries. As for perceptions of the EU in this area, economic promise is a primary factor in Europe’s desirability as a migration destination. Even during the coronavirus pandemic, Philippine Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III reported Germany and Eastern Europe, as well as Russia and the United Kingdom, as potential destinations for Filipino migrants.31 The Philippines’ labor attaché in Milan recorded similar interest in the EU as an employment destination, especially in the healthcare sector.32

Emigrants’ decisions are influenced by many factors, some of which might be affected by the EU’s migration policy, while others are not. One interviewee suggested that a bilateral approach to the drivers of migration could perhaps make the problem more manageable, as could the EU’s involvement in and support for the ratification of the intergovernmental Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration.33 Jaime Ledda, a former Philippine ambassador to the EU, saw opportunities for the union to address the issues and concerns of Filipinos in the EU, particularly those with the status of third-country nationals and au pairs, who are not protected by labor laws.34

Climate and Sustainability

EU interventions in the Philippines on inclusive and sustainable growth focus on access to renewable energy and job creation: connecting more poor people to the electricity grid and promoting decent work, particularly by strengthening women’s employment opportunities. One interviewee noted that there is also a link between human rights and environmental concerns as well as between human rights and business.35

The environment is one of the more consistent areas of engagement between the EU and the Philippines. The union presents itself as a pace setter and a “leading proponent of international action on [the] environment” and sustainable development.36 The EU’s 2014–2020 Multiannual Indicative Programme for the Philippines showed how environmental matters are integrated into the union’s external action and support for the country’s development. The program affirms that EU support for Philippine initiatives is “subject to standard EU environmental and climate screenings in view of addressing pro-poor environmental and climate change concerns in project/programme formulation and implementation.”37

It is no accident, therefore, that EU support focuses on disaster relief and resilience and renewable energy as the key elements of inclusive growth. The linkage of energy and economics is not accidental, either, as it aligned with former Philippine president Benigno Aquino III’s agenda of inclusive and widespread access to energy. The EU program’s emphasis on Mindanao, apart from the priority of peace building, also reflects the region’s vulnerability to climate change, energy shortages, and natural disasters.

This approach aligns with EU policies of support for climate change adaptation, energy diplomacy, and business promotion. The union has declared that grant funds in the energy sector can be used to leverage more loans to amplify the impact of EU assistance. This continues to be evident at the national level, with a recent infusion of funding under the Access to Sustainable Energy Programme—a joint initiative of the EU and the Philippine Department of Energy—to support the country’s efforts in “making energy efficiency and conservation a national way of life,” according to the EU’s chargé d’affaires in the Philippines, Thomas Wiersing.38

Future Priorities for EU-Philippine Relations

Interviewees were in agreement that the EU could be a good security partner both in the traditional sense and in the nontraditional digital sphere, where cybercrime is increasingly posing serious security threats.39 In the words of Pangalangan, “having the EU or European countries as strategic partners in security and defense will show that the Philippines is not tied to the United States or China.”40

Interestingly, the results of an online survey by the authors suggest that young Filipinos would like the EU to be more involved in norms and values—human rights, democracy, and the rule of law—and less involved in economic matters, especially the digital economy (see figures 2 and 3).41

Norms and Values

Human rights advocates worry that greater EU involvement in the Philippines on trade and economics may overshadow or compartmentalize human rights and democracy. While the government in Manila values GSP+ as a necessary economic boost, democracy advocates value the status because of the conditions attached to it. Interviewees in the latter group expressed the view that the EU could or should leverage the suspension of GSP+ to encourage greater compliance with these conditions.42

For some members of the business sector, the EU’s role in human rights and democratic norms could be an attractive feature for the Philippines. In the words of Coco Alcuaz, executive director of the Makati Business Club,

In the past, we had faith in the United States as a “main promoter of democracy,” but because of the Trump administration, I welcome the EU as an equal and complementary partner to the United States. It need not be just a U.S. game . . . The EU can bring to the table stability in policy and execution just by the fact that it is made up of various member states and is unlikely to shift course.43

This sense of EU stability was shared by human rights and democracy advocates. Gascon agreed that “the EU at least tries to be more consistent and coherent in [its] critique of the human rights situation, which is good [when it comes to] norms and values since [the Europeans] influence U.S. policy for transatlantic relations.”44

Healthcare

In the wake of Duterte’s accusations of the EU hoarding COVID-19 vaccines, EU assistance in strengthening healthcare infrastructure in the Philippines and the region would be much appreciated. There is also a need to promote health education and encourage support for clinical trials, given that the cause of most Filipinos’ vaccine reluctance is the 2017 Dengvaxia controversy, in which a dengue fever vaccine was found to increase the risk of severe disease for some people who had received it. The mass hysteria surrounding the controversy was made worse when populist elements used the episode to portray the previous administration in a bad light.

The Digital Economy

As someone working on digital rights and tools, Pangalangan pointed out that the EU is way ahead in this field. The challenge lies in translating the EU’s good practices, particularly on data, transparency, accountability, and protection, into the Philippines’ local context.45 Colmenares admitted that he was unfamiliar with the digital economy, yet he agreed on the clear need to advance data protection and privacy standards in the Philippines. He went on, “A pressing concern is the phenomenon of online trolls that have shaped policies and minds here in the country. The EU is seen as the right partner that can help set standards on how to deal with the overwhelming force of the trolls. [But] can trolls and bots be arrested? When do you curtail the freedom of expression?”46

ASEAN

Indicative of the EU’s growing credibility is the fact that the bloc has moved up to the level of strategic partner for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), an acknowledgment of the cooperation that exists in a wide range of areas. If the EU wants to be a steadfast partner in the region, a parallel track for EU-ASEAN defense cooperation and procurement would be a way forward.47

Conclusion

From the perspective of Filipino stakeholders, the EU presents itself as a valuable partner both materially (in finance, technology, and skills) and in terms of ideas as a beacon for the rest of the world; but this has been consistent since the mid-1980s. What has changed in recent years is Duterte’s ascent to the presidency. Even if differences between the EU and the Philippines existed before his administration, especially on human rights, Duterte’s penchant for heated rhetoric and forceful action marked the start of a sharper divide between Brussels and Manila.

Duterte’s populist rise also signaled a clear break from the Philippines’ previous official and popular consensus on liberal governance—even if certain past administrations only paid lip service to this consensus. Yet, Duterte’s presidency did not end the support of the Philippine government or civil society for liberal democratic norms, and these constituencies still value the EU’s role and engagement in the country. Nor did recent divides derail EU-Philippine relations, the EU’s participation in programs and initiatives that benefit the Philippines, or cooperation in other key areas, such as the Mindanao peace process and climate change.

What has changed for these constituencies is a new sense of urgency: first, because the liberal consensus was so rapidly reversed; second, because the space for liberalism is shrinking in this new environment; and third, because the casualties of the outgoing government’s approach are growing. Gascon even worried about similar trends emerging in the EU itself—as seen in the backsliding of “EU member states not committed to norms and values, such as Hungary and Poland,” which could compromise the EU’s role as “a bulwark [for democratic norms] for the rest of the world.”48 This ideal, together with the union’s economic and socioenvironmental initiatives, is what differentiates the EU from alternative supporting powers, such as the United States and China. It is the EU’s leadership role on norms and values that defines the union’s appeal to liberal constituencies and sets the EU apart from powers that are friendlier toward authoritarian governance styles.

Following the victory of Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos, Jr., known as Bongbong, in the Philippines’ May 2022 presidential election, with Sara Duterte, the daughter of the outgoing president, elected as vice president, the EU will face tough challenges in balancing its trade interests with the need for consistency when it comes to norms and values. In 2021, the Philippines took over a three-year role as the coordinator of dialogue relations between ASEAN and the EU, making the country the first port of call for Brussels in its dealings with ASEAN until 2024. As such, EU contact with the new administration in Manila may become a matter of economic necessity.

Amid all this, the EU remains engaged in and committed to the Philippines. The EU ambassador in Manila, Luc Véron, has his work cut out for him: he must be tougher in calling out any lapses, missteps, or infractions by the new administration in the area of democratic norms and human rights. This challenge also applies to the EU as an organization and to its member states if they are serious about their commitment to human rights. Now is the time for the union to be more resolute, save lives, and preserve democratic institutions. If that is the lasting impression of the EU among Filipinos, it will be well aligned with the bloc’s strategic priorities and treaty obligations.

Florisa C. Almodiel-Luteijn is a lawyer and sociologist who works on trade, economic development, and social innovation. She is also a member of the Philippines-Netherlands Business Council.

Antonio G. M. La Viña is associate director for climate policy and international relations at the Manila Observatory. He is also a professor of law, philosophy, politics, and governance at Ateneo de Manila University.

Notes

1 Sebastian Strangio, “EU Threatens Philippine Trade Perks Over Rights Abuses,” Diplomat, September 21, 2020, https://thediplomat.com/2020/09/eu-threatens-philippine-trade-perks-over-rights-abuses/.

2 Kris Crismundo, “European Firms Invest Over P23-B in PH in 2020,” Philippine News Agency, March 24, 2021, https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1134701.

3 “Action Document for Mindanao Peace and Development Programme (MINPAD),” European Commission, 2019, https://ec.europa.eu/international-partnerships/system/files/aap-financing-philippines-addendum-annex-c-2019-7218_en.pdf.

4 “PHL, EU Sign Agreement for 24.5-M Euro Grant for Bangsamoro Peace Initiatives, Marawi Rehab,” Philippine Department of Finance, August 24, 2020, https://www.dof.gov.ph/phl-eu-sign-agreement-for-24-5-m-euro-grant-for-bangsamoro-peace-initiatives-marawi-rehab/.

5 “First Quarter 2017 Social Weather Survey: Net Trust Rating ‘Good’ +45 for United Nations; ‘Moderate’ +19 for European Union; ‘Neutral’ +8 for Amnesty International,” Social Weather Stations, May 26, 2017, https://www.sws.org.ph/swsmain/artcldisppage/?artcsyscode=ART-20170526163038.

6 “Generalized System of Preferences Plus,” Philippine Department of Trade and Industry, https://www.dti.gov.ph/generalized-system-of-preferences/.

7 “Philippines,” European Commission, https://policy.trade.ec.europa.eu/eu-trade-relationships-country-and-region/countries-and-regions/philippines_en.

8 M. N. D. L. Cruz, “PHL Takes Offense at Resolution by European Parliament on GSP+, Drug War,” BusinessWorld, April 21, 2018, https://www.bworldonline.com/phl-takes-offense-at-resolution-by-european-parliament-on-gsp-drug-war/.

9 “European Parliament Resolution on the Recent Human Rights Developments in the Philippines,” European Parliament, February 16, 2022, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/RC-9-2022-0097_EN.html.

10 Zacarian Sarao, “DFA Slams EU Parliament Resolution on PH Human Rights Record,” Inquirer, February 20, 2022, https://globalnation.inquirer.net/202375/dfa-slams-eu-parliament-resolution-on-ph-human-rights-record.

11 Interview with Jose Luis Gascon via Zoom in March 2021.

12 Interview with Hector Soliman, a key expert for court administration and financial management in the Justice Sector Reform Program: Governance in Justice, via Zoom in April 2021.

13 Interview with Jose Luis Gascon.

14 “Team Europe Contributes to COVAX Facility in the Philippines,” European External Action Service, March 5, 2021, https://www.eeas.europa.eu/eeas/team-europe-contributes-covax-facility-philippines_en.<

15 “European Union Provides €2.3 Million to Protect Filipinos From COVID-19,” World Health Organization, March 15, 2021, https://www.who.int/philippines/news/detail/15-03-2021-european-union-provides-2.3-million-to-protect-filipinos-from-covid-19.

16 Interview with Neri Colmenares via Zoom in March 2021.

17 Interview with Paco Pangalangan via Zoom in March 2021.

18 Jeoffrey Houvenaeghel, “The European Contribution to the Mindanao Peace Process,” European Institute for Asian Studies, March 2015, https://www.eias.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/EIAS_Briefing_Paper_2015-1_Houvenaeghel_Mindanao.pdf.

19 “The EC-Philippines Strategy Paper 2007-2013,” European External Action Service, 2007, https://eeas.europa.eu/archives/docs/philippines/csp/07_13_en.pdf.

20 Ibid.; “Philippines,” European Commission, https://ec.europa.eu/international-partnerships/where-we-work/philippines_en.

21 Christia Marie Ramos, “PH Gets P3.4B Grant From EU for Mindanao Peace, Development Programs,” Inquirer, July 17, 2020, https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1308160/ph-gets-p3-4b-grant-from-eu-for-mindanao-peace-development-programs.

22 Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2016, European External Action Service, https://eeas.europa.eu/sites/default/files/annual_report_on_human_rights_and_democracy_in_the_world_2016_.pdf.

23 Country Updates on Human Rights and Democracy 2017, European External Action Service, https://www.eeas.europa.eu/sites/default/files/documents/compiled_country_updates_annual_report_on_human_rights_and_democracy_2017_clean_0.pdf.

24 Interview with Jose Luis Gascon.

25 Interview with Neri Colmenares.

26 Interview with Jose Luis Gascon.

27 “Immigration by Country 2022,” World Population Review, https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/immigration-by-country.

28 “Verité Report of Philippine Migrant Workers in Europe,” La Strada International, April 4, 2021, https://www.lastradainternational.org/news/verite-report-of-philippine-migrant-workers-in-europe/.

29 “Total Number of OFWs Estimated at 2.2 Million,” Philippine Statistics Authority, June 4, 2020, https://psa.gov.ph/content/total-number-ofws-estimated-22-million.

30 Sofia Tomacruz, “FAST FACTS: How Important Is the EU to the Philippines?,” Rappler, May 18, 2017, https://www.rappler.com/business/fast-facts-how-important-european-union-philippines.

31 Ferdinand Patinio, “DOLE Eyes Europe as Potential New Market for Displaced OFWs,” Philippine News Agency, October 15, 2020, https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1118674.

32 Ellson Quismorio, “Huge Demand for OFWs in Europe as Countries Rebuild From Pandemic,” Manila Bulletin, February 24, 2021, https://mb.com.ph/2021/02/24/huge-demand-for-ofws-in-europe-as-countries-rebuild-from-pandemic/.

33 Interview with Jose Luis Gascon.

34 Interview with Jaime Ledda via Zoom in March 2021.

35 Ibid.

36 “International Issues,” European Commission, https://ec.europa.eu/environment/international_issues/index_en.htm.

37 “Multiannual Indicative Programme (MIP) for the Philippines,” European External Action Service, 2014, https://eeas.europa.eu/sites/default/files/mip20142020-programming-philippines-20140825_en.pdf.

38 Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat, “EU Allots P3.76 B for PH Green Financing,” Manila Bulletin, October 26, 2020, https://mb.com.ph/2020/10/26/eu-allots-p3-76-b-for-ph-green-financing/.

39 Interviews with Jaime Ledda and Paco Pangalangan.

40 Interview with Paco Pangalangan.

41 Online survey among students at Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City. The survey was sent out to twenty of Antonio La Viña’s classes at various universities aside from Ateneo, but only forty-five students responded.

42 Interview with Ellecer Carlos, a human rights advocate and founder of In Defence of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDefend), via Zoom in April 2021; interview with Jose Luis Gascon.

43 Interview with Coco Alcuaz via Zoom in April 2021.

44 Interview with Jose Luis Gascon.

45 Interview with Paco Pangalangan.

46 Interview with Neri Colmenares.

47 Interview with Jaime Ledda.

48 Interview with Jose Luis Gascon.