MANILA -- Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday said the Philippines would not accept conditional European Union (EU) grants, but is confident this would not affect its ties with the bloc.

“With the President’s (Rodrigo Duterte) directive now, we have to communicate formally to the EU ambassador Franz Jessen that as of now hindi tayo tatanggap ng (we will not accept) aid. It should not affect our overall relationship, it should not affect our trade, it should not affect our bilateral relationship. It should not affect our working relationship,” Cayetano told reporters on the sidelines of high level forum on ASEAN.

He noted aid refers to grants, which some Cabinet members believe can provide the EU the “legal authority” to interfere with the country’s internal affairs.

“The point of the speech of the President last night was, if the grant has strings attached and you can meddle in our politics, it’s more damaging than helpful,” Cayetano said.

The DFA further stressed there are many other countries giving the Philippines grants without agreement.

“It’s just up to us whether we accept. My personal view is, if EU starts giving us with no strings attached, without those agreements, everyone could use the help,” he said.

Cayetano also reiterated that there was no order for the EU ambassadors to leave the Philippines.

“There’s no order to leave. Certain meetings will be set to clarify these issues,” he added. (PNA)