THE head of the country’s economic team reiterated on Friday the government’s “strong commitment” to the rule of law as well as realizing the Duterte administration’s goal of eliminating poverty and promoting a “law-abiding society.”
Reacting to the announcement of the US Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC) that it had deferred a vote on the reselection of the Philippines for a new aid package or “compact,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd pointed out that the Philippines passed 13 out of the 20 country indicators in the MCC scorecard report published just last month, including control of corruption, rule of law and civil liberties.
“We have received the news about the MCC’s decision. We thank them for the grant that the Philippines received under the first compact as we reassure them and the rest of our development partners that the government continues to vigorously implement initiatives that reinforce the Duterte presidency’s commitment to good governance, peace and order and the rule of law,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez noted that the MCC scorecard released in November, in which the Philippines passed 13 out of the 20 indicators, was a slight improvement from last year’s performance report, where the Philippines passed 12 out of the 20 indicators.
The MCC board is scheduled to reconvene in March next year under a new US administration.
The Philippines received $434 million in MCC funding over a five-year period from 2010 to 2016.
The money went to tax collection reforms of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, 4,000 community development programs under the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services or KALAHI-CIDSS, and 137 miles of roads and 61 bridges on Samar Island.
Dominguez pointed out that in the first six months of the Duterte administration, the Philippines continued to be the economic “outperformer” of the region, with international institutions like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank projecting growth above 6 percent and credit raters maintaining their investment-grade rating for the country.
Other institutions that have remained bullish on the Philippines include the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp., Nomura, Citibank, Fitch Ratings, International Monetary Fund and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.
Dominguez said the Duterte administration’s three priority goals of “reducing poverty, developing a society that is law-abiding and a country at peace with itself and its neighbors,” would only be achieved with the assistance of the country’s development partners.
“In realizing these three priority goals, the government has to make tough decisions that will not please everybody,” Dominguez said.
Moreover, an overwhelming majority of Filipinos believe the Duterte administration has been doing a very good job in restoring peace and order, as shown by quarterly tracking polls of the Social Weather Stations that gave the new government a record satisfaction rating of 77 percent in the fourth quarter, he said.
Dominguez also cited the cordial phone conversation between Duterte and US President-elect Donald Trump.
The Cabinet official likewise recalled that in his meetings with foreign government officials, a number of them said they understood the gravity of the illegal drug problem.
Officials from the United Kingdom, Spain, Japan and China have focused on the rehabilitation aspect of the Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal drugs, he said.