"No, I don't think so," Pernia told reporters in Pasig City when he was asked if the economic team was consulted regarding the move to reject billions of pesos in development aid from the EU.
The EU earlier committed €300 million or P16.6 billion in development assistance to the Philippines until 2020, focused on Mindanao peace and development. An initial funding of €50 million or P2.76 billion has been earmarked for the region.
Just early this month, EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen assured the Philippines that the economic and political block would continue to pour in development assistance despite concerns about human rights issues in the country.
Pernia said he was "in a way" surprised by the development, but noted that President Rodrigo Duterte has a way of taking back his statements and that this development should not be taken as policy set in stone.
"No, it's not policy. Policy is something that is more permanent. If it's refused this year, maybe it might not be refused next year. So, only this year," he said Thursday.
If it was up to him, Pernia said the Philippines would not reject the billions of pesos in foreign aid.
"If I were to make the decision, I would not. I'm a friendly person," he said.
The Cabinet official said he will discuss with other members of the economic team – Budget Secretary Benjamin M. Diokno and Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III – the matter and decide if they will recommend that the President retract his statement.
"We will collectively decide. The three of us will collectively decide," he said, noting that it was not discussed during the latest Cabinet meeting.
Pernia said the President is receptive to recommendations of the economic team. "He is usually open to suggestion."
By JON VIKTOR D. CABUENAS , GMA News