• Note to DFA: Don’t shoot the messenger

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    Before Malacanang and/or the Department of Foreign Affairs accuses Philippine media of being biased or inaccurate—specifically where the issue of the reported blacklisting by France of the country due to aid fraud is concerned—it should first check the source of the news report.

    The source of the story was an interview with a civil servant by a French newspaper.

    Most newspapers and broadcast organizations carried the story because it was newsworthy. More importantly, it was a cause for concern.

    If, in fact, the Philippines were included in the supposed blacklist, the public has the right to expect the government to take immediate corrective action.

    Since the French Foreign Minister himself has clarified that there is no such blacklis—at least not an official blacklist—then we can all breathe a sigh of relief. The Philippines is not being investigated for foreign aid fraud.

    Herein lies the rub.

    The Philippines has been the recipient of substantial foreign aid from numerous countries, France included. Where that aid goes is not quite clear to all.

    Some aid goes straight to beneficiaries and are coursed through non-government organizations. Others are passed to the national or even local governments.

    It is in the best interest of the donors to be absolutely certain that the aid goes where it is intended, and is not pocketed by unscrupulous individuals, whether in government or the private sector.

    If any donor country or organization were to audit the funds, the question is this: Will the Philippines pass the audit consistently?

    It is worth mulling over because any misuse of aid or financial assistance will result in a blacklist, and those in need will invariably become the victims. Future aid will be lost because the funds could not be explained to the satisfaction of the donors.

    Again, the French blacklist is turning out to be a false story. But at the time it was printed or broadcast, there was validity to the story.

    No one should blame media. Shooting the messenger was acceptable centuries ago, but not in this day and age.

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