The European Union on Monday summoned the Philippines' envoy in Brussels to explain the "unacceptable" statements made by President Rodrigo Duterte, among which was a threat to hang EU officials who opposed his efforts to restore the death penalty.
"This afternoon, the European External Action Service asked the Chargé d'Affaires of the Philippines, Mr. Alan Deniega, to come to the EEAS this afternoon for a meeting with Deputy Secretary General, Jean-Christophe Belliard, as we wanted to receive an explanation for the recent, unacceptable comments of President Duterte," EU spokesperson Maja Kocijancic said in a statement.
The EU action indicates growing intolerance by the 28-member bloc of the Philippine President's expletive-laden verbal attacks.
Duterte had severely criticized the EU for raising concerns over his deadly campaign against illegal drugs and his call to re-impose the death penalty.
"I will just be happy to hang you. If I have the preference, I'll hang all of you," Duterte had said last Friday in an arrival statement after his visit to Myanmar and Thailand.
"You are putting us down. You are exerting pressure in every country with the death penalty."
The Philippine leader also lambasted the EU for suggesting "a health-based solution" to the country's problem with illegal drugs.
Duterte claimed the EU wanted the Philippine government to build clinics where drug users could still get access to and be given a dose of illegal substances - an allegation denied by the European bloc.
"At no time has the EU Delegation suggested, discussed, proposed or considered the use of any substitution drugs when treating addiction to methamphetamine (shabu), or any other drug addiction in the Philippines," the EU said in a separate statement.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, meanwhile, said in a news briefing that Duterte's remarks about hanging EU officials should be taken literally.
“I’m sure by this time we understand, it’s more than being literal. Basically, he speaks of an attitude of emphasizing that we should be left alone to be able to do our part,” Abella said.
He insisted that the Philippines and EU enjoy an "excellent" relationship. —with Trisha Macas/DVM/ALG, GMA News