By Chino S. Leyco
The United States has deferred the Philippines’ bid to secure a second foreign aid under the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
Amid Washington’s mounting criticism on the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, the MCC said it needs more time to “further review” the Philippines’ eligibility for a second compact.
MCC then raised “concerns around rule of law and civil liabilities” under President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s leadership.
“For a country to be selected as eligible for MCC assistance, it must demonstrate a commitment to just and democratic governance, investments in its people, and economic freedom,” MCC said in a statement.
Dana J. Hyde, MCC chief executive also said that the country also needs to demonstrate its ability to fight corruption, respect the right of women and the rule of law.
Hyde further explained MCC has set rigorous standards for good governance, ability to fight poverty and transform people’s lives.
Excluding the Philippines, the MCC selected instead Burkina Faso, Sri Lanka, and Tunisia for new compact partnerships.
Like the Philippines, Burkina Faso recently completed its first MCC compact in July, 2014.
But unlike the Philippines, the MCC noted that Burkina Faso demonstrated clear policy improvement on its scorecard since the election of its new government last year.
Approved in 2010, the first MCC compact provided the Philippines with $262-million funding for the Secondary National Roads Development Project to improve access to markets and services for farmers, fishermen and small businessmen.
The MCC also granted $120 million for Kalahi-CIDSS that empowers communities by encouraging their participation in poverty reducing activities; and $54.3 million for the computerization and streamlining of business processes of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia, meanwhile, shrugged off MCC’s decision to defer the Philippines’ bid for a second compact, saying “I wouldn’t put too much on it, I wouldn’t lose sleep over that.”
Pernia said a second compact from MCC is more of a “symbolic, it’s not going to be really of that in significant.”
But he disclosed the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was trying to block the Philippines’ second compact from the MCC.
“[Finance] Secretary [Carlos G.] Dominguez [III] called me yesterday [Tuesday] that the USAID is putting on hold the approval of MCC,” Pernia disclosed.