President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said diplomats from the European Union were free to leave the Philippines within 24 hours.
"Now, the ambassadors of those countries listening now. Tell me, because we can have the diplomatic channel cut tomorrow. You leave my country in 24 hours. All. All of you. You must have taken the Filipinos for granted," he said in a speech during the relaunch of the New Executive Building press briefing room.
Duterte's statement came on the heels of a warning from the Human Rights Watch on October 9 that the Philippines might be at risk of being removed from the United Nations Human Rights Council because of alleged rights violations in the country.
A seven-member delegation of the Progressive Alliance and the Party of European Socialists has also visited the Philippines, calling on the government to “stop the killings, stop silencing dissent.”
They also warned that if Duterte would continue with the government's “bloody” drug war, the Philippines might strain its trading relationships with the international community.
EU mission disavows call
The EU mission in the country on Thursday disavowed any connection with the Progressive Alliance and the European socialists.
"The recent visit of the delegation of the 'International Delegates of the Progressive Alliance' to the Philippines on 8-9 October was not a 'European Union mission,' as falsely reported by some media outlets," Jessen said in a statement.
"The statements made by the Progressive Alliance during its visit to the Philippines were made solely on behalf of the Progressive Alliance and do not represent the position of the European Union," he added.
"The European Union was not part of the organization or planning of that visit - neither the Delegation of the European Union in the Philippines nor the European Union institutions in Brussels," Jessen said.
Sought for comment as regards Duterte's threat to cut diplomatic ties, the EU in its Brussels headquarters said, "The EU Delegation in the Philippines has not received any such communication."
"The Delegation continues to operate and function normally, and is committed to working constructively and productively with the Philippines for the benefit of the population," the EU said in a statement.
Palace says it’s the delegation
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella in a statement clarified that Duterte’s rant stemmed from the remarks of the European socialists.
“This delegation’s irresponsible statements protesting the alleged killings under the Duterte Administration demean our status as a sovereign nation," Abella said.
“The call of the President for EU ambassadors to leave the country in 24 hours must be taken in this light,” he added. — MDM/NB, GMA News