The Duterte administration already is preparing list of projects to be pitched to the United States ahead of a Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC) decision on the Philippines’ aid eligibility.
“There is no negotiation [with MCC], but we are preparing the pipeline of projects. So we hired a consultant to put [together]… a package of projects,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd told reporters.
The MCC, an independent US foreign aid agency created under the Millennium Challenge Act of 2003, uses a competitive selection process to determine which countries receive aid.
The Philippines was awarded a five-year, $434-million package in 2010. Prior to the May 2016 end of the so-called “compact”, the MCC board announced that the country was eligible for a new package.
Last December, however, the MCC announced that its board had “deferred a vote on the reselection of the Philippines for compact development, subject to a further review of concerns around rule of law and civil liberties.”
This was widely seen as a response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly war on drugs and his tirades against Washington.
The Philippines was listed as a candidate country for 2018 last month, which means the MCC will reopen discussions on whether a new compact will be offered.
Asked for further details, Dominguez said the government was partial to projects in the Pacific side of Luzon and in Benham Rise, which the Duterte government has renamed the Philippine Rise.
“I said why don’t we do study the possibility of putting good developments in the east coast of Luzon? That [area]needs a lot of development,” he said.
“We already have a new territory which is the Philippine Rise. Might as well start developing such places,” Dominguez added.
“If they approve it [the projects]then we can hit the ground running. If they cannot approve it then we have something in the pipeline that we can finance elsewhere,” he said.
Funds provided under the first MCC compact were used for tax collection reforms at 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 the construction of 137 miles of roads and 61 bridges in Samar.