In a press conference, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the reason behind the country’s withdrawal was for the government to focus on rebuilding the battle-scarred Marawi City. PPD

Philippines withdraws application for US-backed grant
( - December 19, 2017 - 4:05am

MANILA, Philippines — (Updated 12:46 p.m.) Malacañang on Tuesday announced the Philippines has withdrawn its application for a second aid package from US poverty reduction agency Millennium Challenge Corporation.

"The decision to withdraw was because of the urgent priority of the administration to rebuild Marawi," presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in explanation.

So although the first compact was responsible for the implementation of the secondary road development project, the Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services, and Revenue Administration Reform Project of the Department of Finance, it was deemed that for the time being, we will withdraw our application for the second cycle, and we will focus instead on the rebuilding of Marawi," the presidential spokesperson said of the fund which was used in the past for infrastructure projects.

Roque also made it clear the Philippines does not object to conditions imposed by the MCC in granting aid.

"It was really just that Marawi happened, we did not expect it and it’s going to be a very costly rebuilding," he said, adding that the Philippines hopes that the "Americans can and still contribute towards the rebuilding of Marawi in some other ways."

'Conditional aid'

The Duterte administration has repeatedly said that it will no longer accept grants and aid that have conditions that the government would consider a violation of sovereignty. This was prompted by concerns from abroad over alleged human rights violations in the war on drugs.

"It is the policy to all countries. If you're going to give us conditionalities that will affect our sovereignty to give you the right to interfere into our domestic affairs, we will not accept that donation," Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said in October.

“Now questions, will the people not suffer? No, because you can give it directly to the people. So for example, the US, they use the international organizations, even EU gives some of the money to the International Red Cross,” he also said.

In August, Ernesto Abella, presidential spokesperson at the time, said the inclusion of the Philippines in a list of countries that may receive a grant from MCC was welcome but stressed that any assistance should be aligned with President Rodrigo Duterte’s agenda.

“This is a recognition of the efforts of the Duterte administration – through its ten-point socioeconomic agenda – to continue and maintain macroeconomic policies while investing in human capital development in health and educational systems and improving social protection programs to protect the poor,” Abella said then.

“While we are happy with this new development, our economic managers would study the conditions set by the MCC if these are aligned with the President’s priority agenda,” he said of the potential grant.

The MCC had earlier approved a development grant for the Philippines, which was completed in 2016.

Low MCC scores in controlling corruption, rule of law

In November, it was reported that the Philippines received low scores on the Millennium Challenge Corporation Fiscal Year 2018 Scorecard in controlling corruption and ensuring rule of law.
The percentile ranking of the Philippines in low income group category was 50 percent in control of corruption after scoring zero and 47 percent in rule of law after scoring -0.01.
This means that the country did not meet the performance standard.
The country, however, met the standard in government effectiveness at 80 percent and freedom of information at 77 percent.

This is a developing story.

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