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Procedure : 2015/2234(INI)
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Document selected : A8-0143/2016

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PV 07/06/2016 - 14
CRE 07/06/2016 - 14

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PV 08/06/2016 - 12.11
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Wednesday, 8 June 2016 - Strasbourg Final edition
EU-Philippines Framework Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation (resolution)

European Parliament non-legislative resolution of 8 June 2016 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the Union, of the Framework Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of the Philippines, of the other part (05431/2015 – C8-0061/2015 – 2013/0441(NLE)2015/2234(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (05431/2015),

–  having regard to the draft Framework Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of the Philippines, of the other part (15616/2010),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Articles 207 and 209 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in conjunction with Article 218(6)(a) thereof (C8-0061/2015),

–  having regard to its legislative resolution of 8 June 2016 on the draft decision(1),

–  having regard to the diplomatic relations between the Philippines and the EU (at the time the European Economic Community (EEC)) established on 12 May 1964 with the appointment of the Philippines Ambassador to the EEC,

–  having regard to the EC-Philippines Framework Agreement for Development Cooperation, which entered into force on 1 June 1985,

–  having regard to the European Union’s Multiannual Indicative Programme for the Philippines 2014-2020,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EEC) No 1440/80 of 30 May 1980 concerning the conclusion of the Cooperation Agreement between the European Economic Community and Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand – member countries of the Association of the South-East Asian Nations(2),

–  having regard to the Joint Communication of the Commission and of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of 18 May 2015 to Parliament and the Council entitled ‘The EU and ASEAN: a partnership with a strategic purpose’,

–  having regard to the 10th ASEM Summit, held in Milan on 16 and 17 October 2014,

–  having regard to the Interparliamentary meeting between the European Parliament and the Philippine Parliament of February 2013,

–  having regard to the 23rd meeting of the ASEAN-EU Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC), held in Jakarta on 4 February 2016,

–  having regard to its recent resolutions on the Philippines, in particular those of 14 June 2012 on the cases of impunity in the Philippines(3), of 21 January 2010 on the Philippines (following the Maguindanao massacre of 23 November 2009)(4), and of 12 March 2009 on the Philippines (on the hostilities between government forces and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF))(5),

–  having regard to the Philippines’ status as a founding member of ASEAN following the signature of the Bangkok Declaration on 8 August 1967,

–  having regard to the 27th ASEAN Summit, held in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) from 18 to 22 November 2015,

–  having regard to the 14th Asia Security Summit (IISS Shangri-La Dialogue), held in Singapore from 29 to 31 May 2015,

–  having regard to the reports by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Hilal Elver (29 December 2015 – A/HRC/31/51/Add.1), the UN Special Rapporteur on the trafficking of persons, Joy Ngosi Ezeilo (19 April 2013 – A/HRC/23/48/Add.3), and the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston (29 April 2009 – A/HRC/11/2/Add.8),

–  having regard to the Second Universal Periodic Review by the UN Human Rights Council of May 2012, 66 of whose 88 recommendations were accepted by the Philippines,

–  having regard to the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition for 2011 to 2016, the Accelerated Hunger Mitigation Programme, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Plan of 1988 and the Fisheries Code of 1998,

–  having regard to Rule 99(1), second subparagraph, of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0143/2016),

A.  whereas in terms of international and national human rights legislation, the Philippines are a role model for other countries in the region, having ratified eight of the nine major human rights conventions, with the exception of the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CPPED), as well as having ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in 2011;

B.  whereas in March 2014 the Philippine government agreed on a peace deal for the island of Mindanao with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which involves creating an autonomous region (Bangsamoro) in the island’s Muslim south, but does not include the participation of other militia groups who oppose the peace process; whereas, however, the Philippine Congress failed to adopt the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in February 2016, and thus did not bring the peace negotiations to a successful conclusion;

C.  whereas the Philippines have received counter-insurgency, counterterrorism and intelligence training from the US army, in the context of the fight against militia groups that have potential links to regional (South-East Asian) and international terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS;

D.  whereas in April 2015 the Philippines and the US signed the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (EDCA);

E.  whereas Japan and the Philippines signed a Memorandum on Defence Cooperation and Exchanges in January 2015;

F.  whereas Sino-Philippine relations have experienced a gradual deterioration since the 2008 corruption allegations regarding Chinese assistance, and more importantly following China’s growing assertiveness regarding its territorial claims in the South China Sea;

G.  whereas the Philippines initiated an arbitration case at the International Arbitral Tribunal of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in January 2013, seeking clarification on its maritime entitlements under the UNCLOS and the validity of China’s ‘9-dash line claim’ over much of the South China Sea;

H.  whereas the Philippines have announced that they will open new navy and air base facilities with extensive access to the South China Sea and will make these facilities available to US, Japanese and Vietnamese ships;

I.  whereas the EU granted the Philippines GSP+ status in December 2014, as the first ASEAN country to enjoy such trade preferences; whereas this enables the Philippines to export 66 % of all its products tariff-free to the EU, including processed fruit, coconut oil, footwear, fish, and textiles;

J.  whereas the Philippines consists of thousands of islands, a conformation which poses challenges in terms of internal connectivity, infrastructure and trade;

K.  whereas the EU is a major foreign investor in and trade partner of the Philippines;

L.  whereas the EU is the Philippines’ fourth largest trading partner and fourth largest export market, accounting for 11,56 % of all Philippine exports;

M.  whereas the Philippines recently expressed their interest in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership and are currently in consultation with the US on acceding to that agreement;

N.  whereas the EU more than doubled its financial allocation for development cooperation with the Philippines over the period 2014-2020, and has also provided significant humanitarian and emergency assistance to the victims of tropical storms;

O.  whereas the Philippines is the third most vulnerable developing country to climate change, a circumstance which will adversely affect the country’s agriculture and marine resources;

P.  whereas the devastating impact of Typhoon Haiyan, which in 2013 killed an estimated 6 000 people, is continuing to have adverse effects on the economy, and has notably exacerbated food insecurity and pushed an additional 1 million people into poverty, according to UN estimates;

1.  Welcomes the conclusion of the Framework Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation with the Philippines;

2.  Considers that the EU should continue providing financial support and capacity-building assistance to the Philippines for poverty alleviation, social inclusion, respect for human rights and the rule of law, the promotion of peace, reconciliation, security and judicial reform, and assisting the country in disaster preparedness, relief and recovery and the implementation of effective policies to tackle climate change;

3.  Encourages the Philippine government to continue fostering further progress in the elimination of corruption and the promotion of human rights;

4.  Commends the Philippines for having been part of the international counterterrorism coalition since 2001; expresses, however, its concern over the continued reports of severe human rights violations by the Philippine military in the conduct of counter-insurgency measures, in particular by paramilitary units;

5.  Points out that the Abu Sayyaf group is accused of carrying out the worst acts of terrorism committed in the Philippines, including deadly bombings such as the attack on a ferry in Manila in 2004 in which more than 100 people were killed;

6.  Stresses that there are growing concerns that ISIS will win over affiliated groups in South-East Asia, as it is spreading propaganda in the local languages and some extremists in the region have already pledged their allegiance;

7.  Appreciates the commitments made by the Philippine Government, and underlines the importance of achieving a peace process for Mindanao that is as inclusive as possible; notes the contribution made to the Mindanao agreements by the International Contact Group; deeply regrets the fact that the Mindanao Peace Agreement was not adopted by the Philippine Congress; calls for the continuation of the peace negotiations and for the adoption by Congress of the BBL;

8.  Condemns the massacre of 24 December 2015 of Christian farmers by separatist rebels in Mindanao; welcomes the initiative by the Philippine NGO PeaceTech of putting Christian and Muslim schoolchildren in touch with each other via Skype in an effort to foster contact between the two communities;

9.  Calls on the Philippine government to build capacity in the field of systematic data collection on human trafficking, and calls for the EU and its Member States to support the government, and notably the Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking (IACAT), in the efforts being made to enhance assistance and support for victims, to put into place efficient law enforcement measures, improve the legal avenues of work labour migration, and ensure decent treatment of Filipino migrants in third countries;

10.  Calls for the EU and its Member States to engage with the Philippines in order to exchange intelligence, cooperate and provide support for the government’s capacity- building in the international fight against terrorism and extremism in relation to fundamental rights and the rule of law;

11.  Notes that the Philippines are strategically located in the proximity of major international shipping and air traffic routes in the South China Sea;

12.  Recalls its serious concerns over the tension in the South China Sea; considers it regrettable that, contrary to the 2002 Declaration of Conduct, several parties are claiming land in the disputed waters; is particularly concerned at the massive scale of China’s current activities in the area, including building military facilities, ports, and at least one airstrip; urges all parties in the disputed area to refrain from unilateral and provocative actions and to resolve the disputes peacefully based on international law, in particular the UNCLOS, with impartial international mediation and arbitration; urges all parties to acknowledge the jurisdiction of both UNCLOS and the Court of Arbitration, and calls for respect for any eventual decision by UNCLOS; supports all steps that will enable the South China Sea to become a ‘sea of peace and cooperation’; also supports all endeavours to ensure that the parties agree on a code of conduct for the peaceful exploitation of the maritime areas in question, including the establishment of safe trade routes, and encourages confidence-building measures; believes that the EU should engage in bilateral and multilateral cooperation in order to effectively contribute to security in the region;

13.  Welcomes the agreement of May 2014 between the Philippines and Indonesia which clarified the issue of overlapping maritime boundaries in the Mindanao and Celebes Seas;

14.  Calls on the Philippines, as one of the countries having been granted GSP+ status by the EU, to ensure effective implementation of all the core international conventions relating to human and labour rights, the environment and good governance, as listed in Annex VIII to Regulation (EU) No 978/2012; recognises that the Philippines have strengthened their human rights legislation; calls on the Philippines to continue fostering further progress in the promotion of human rights, including the publication of the National Action Plan for Human Rights, as well as in the elimination of corruption; expresses particular concern with regard to the repression faced by activists who are peacefully campaigning to protect their ancestral lands from the impact of mining and deforestation; recalls that under the GSP+ beneficiaries will have to prove that they are implementing their obligations concerning human rights, labour, environmental and governance standards;

15.  Takes note of the GSP+ country assessment of the Philippines, particularly as regards the ratification of all seven UN human rights conventions relevant to the EU’s GSP+; highlights the work that still needs to be done for implementation; recognises the steps the government has taken and the progress achieved so far;

16.  Encourages the Philippines to continue improving the investment climate, including the FDI environment, by increasing transparency and good governance and implementing the UN guiding principles on business and human rights and further developing infrastructure, where appropriate through public-private partnerships; expresses concern over the effects that climate change will have on the Philippines;

17.  Encourages the government to invest in new technologies and the internet in order to promote cultural exchange and trade among the islands that make up the Philippines;

18.  Welcomes the agreement of 22 December 2015 to open negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement with the Philippines; considers it appropriate that the Commission and the Philippine authorities ensure high standards on human rights, labour and the environment; underscores that such an FTA should serve as a building block towards a region-to-region EU-ASEAN agreement on trade and investment which can be restarted in parallel;

19.  Takes note that 800 000 Filipinos are living in the EU and that Filipino seamen working on EU-registered ships send remittances to the Philippines amounting to EUR 3 billion per annum; considers that the EU should further develop people-to-people exchanges of students, academics and scientific researchers, as well as cultural exchanges;

20.  Bearing in mind that the majority of the crew on many non-Community flagged vessels calling at European ports are Filipino, as well as the harsh and inhuman working conditions in which many of these seafarers live, calls on Member States not to allow these vessels to be received in European ports when the working conditions on board contravene the labour rights and principles enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union; urges, likewise, non-Community flagged vessels to guarantee their crews’ working conditions in accordance with international legislation and the rules laid down by the ILO and the IMO;

21.  Calls for regular exchanges between the European External Action Service (EEAS) and Parliament, to allow Parliament to follow up on the implementation of the Framework Agreement and the achievement of its objectives;

22.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the European External Action Service, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the Government and Parliament of the Republic of the Philippines.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0262.
(2) OJ L 144, 10.6.1980, p. 1.
(3) OJ C 332 E, 15.11.2013, p. 99.
(4) OJ C 305 E, 11.11.2010, p. 11.
(5) OJ C 87 E, 1.4.2010, p. 181.

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