EDITORIAL - Judicious utilization
() - May 6, 2012 - 12:00am

The country’s former president is currently fighting criminal charges in connection with, among other things, a foreign-funded broadband project. Certain exemptions from rules meant to promote transparency and accountability have made foreign-funded projects in this country susceptible to graft and corruption.

Recent jurisprudence can reinforce this. In a landmark decision in 2008, the Supreme Court ruled with finality that the foreign funding component in the government’s broadband network deal with China’s ZTE Corp. justified the invocation of executive privilege by former socioeconomic planning secretary Romulo Neri in his refusal to disclose to the Senate further information on the deal. The broadband project would have been partly financed by a concessional loan from the Chinese government.

Several donors have moved to discourage bribery and other corrupt practices in their development projects, fine-tuning their own rules and tightening project monitoring from bidding to implementation. The World Bank, which links the battle against corruption to its development thrusts, has blacklisted contractors, including several in the Philippines, found to have engaged in graft and other anomalous practices involving WB-funded projects.

Other sources of official development assistance, however, prefer to leave such tasks to the aid recipient. For these types of ODA, it is up to the Philippine government to show that the funds are used judiciously.

Proper utilization of ODA is important particularly for a country that remains heavily dependent on foreign aid for many of its needs, including national defense. In recent years, certain ODA releases to the Philippines were delayed or suspended, projects put on hold and aid levels reduced amid reports of corruption and other anomalies.

At the 45th annual meeting of the Board of Governors of the Asian Development Bank, which ended yesterday, President Aquino assured participants that the Philippines is now utilizing ODA properly, with transparency and accountability. Apart from being true to his word, he must put in place measures to ensure that the reforms will be sustained beyond his presidency.

AID BOARD OF GOVERNORS OF THE ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK BROADBAND DEVELOPMENT FOREIGN ODA PRESIDENT AQUINO PROJECTS ROMULO NERI SUPREME COURT WORLD BANK
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