MALACAÑANG on Tuesday is optimistic that the Duterte administration would have “better ties” with the European Union (EU).

“We also expect better ties between the Philippines and EU, noting that there are issues for stronger areas of cooperation such as trade, justice and security, and economic development,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said, despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s earlier tirades against the EU over its alleged interference in his drug war.

Abella’s statement came after EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen on Monday revealed plans of including drug rehabilitation efforts in its funding assistance to the Philippines.

Jessen said the EU was considering to grant funds to the Duterte administration to help it suppress the drug problem in the Philippines.

“We are trying to see if we should change funding so that we can focus more on the drug issue, which is a key priority for the government,” Jessen was quoted as saying at the launch of the commemorative book “The Ties that Bind” in Makati City.

Abella said the government acknowledged EU’s move to support it in its fight against narcotics trade.

“As the Duterte administration gains ground in the war on drugs, the Palace welcomes all plans and offers of help without conditions for the country’s drug rehabilitation program, including those coming from the European Union,” the presidential spokesperson said.

Duterte earlier challenged his critics from the international community, including the EU, the United States, and the United Nations, to withdraw their financial aid to the Philippines, if they would continue to "intervene" in his deadly drug war.

This had prompted the US-backed Millenium Challenge Corporation last year to defer its decision to grant financial support to the Duterte administration, citing concerns over its war on drugs. (SunStar Philippines)