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Rejection of aid: An act of sovereignty

by Francis N. Tolentino

However surprised many must be upon hearing that the Philippines would not welcome any grant or aid from the European Union, it is however a presidential prerogative that should not be a cause of alarm.

In fact, many countries have also expressed rejection towards receiving foreign aid, even in the aftermath of disasters.

For example, in recent times, the United Kingdom, just in the previous year 2016, turned down the European Union’s proposed food funds – a large amount of 22 million Pounds, to be exact; as a matter of national policy and perhaps, pride.

The same nation also rejected a similar offer by the same organization in the year 2013. Another example cites a nation closer to our vicinity: Thailand. The Kingdom of Thailand had initially turned down foreign aid after the tsunami incident in 2004, where an underwater earthquake in the Indian Ocean triggered the monstrous wave.

The initial post-disaster response was spearheaded by their state; it was only afterwards that foreign humanitarian aid came.

Even powerful countries such as the United States had their share of turning down international assistance. When the deadly Hurricane Katrina ravaged the United States in 2005, the country declined most aid offers by other countries and foreign organizations, only allowing select forms of aid from a small group of donors.

Myanmar, which was hit by Cyclone Nargis in the year 2008, similarly declined most aid and grant offers from overseas after the natural disaster.

These are but a few examples that show the frequency of rejection when it comes to foreign grants and aid.

Additionally, aid rejection may sometimes not mean a total non-acceptance; at times, it can mean that limited forms of it can still be accepted or even coursed through private institutions.

To reiterate, the act of rejecting foreign aid, assistance, or grants is not novel. Countries may do so as an expression of sovereignty, to avoid dependency, and develop capable national response.