The Philippine government can still regain the upper hand after the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Board of Directors deferred the aid package anchored on the "significant concerns" about the rule of law under the present administration.
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Spokesman and Assistant Secretary Charles Jose said Thursday night that it is not yet final as the Philippines has yet to explain to the MCC board that the Duterte administration has high respect to human rights which was not pictured in the international media.
"The deferment allows us the opportunity to continue to dialogue with the MCC. The development of the Second Compact continues until the next board meeting in March 2017," Jose said in a text message.
Jose pointed out that the Philippine Government remains committed to fostering good governance and the rule of law in the country, and will continue to engage the MCC Board to ensure that accurate and updated information on government policies and programs are provided to its members.
His reaction is based on the board's decision to defer the vote on the reselection of the Philippines for a Second MCC Compact.
The DFA spokesman said that the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC reported that the MCC Board had a wide discussion on its engagement with the Philippines, including the very positive performance in the First MCC Compact and the FY 2017 Scorecard, as well as on the current developments in the country.
"The Board 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," the MCC said in a statement posted on their website.
During the quarterly meeting on December 13, 2016, MCC Board of Directors selected Burkina Faso, Sri Lanka and Tunisia for new MCC compacts - five-year grants - to encourage economic growth and reduce poverty.
The MCC reminded their set rule that 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, as measured by third-party policy indicators on MCC's annual scorecard.
"By partnering with developing countries that meet rigorous standards for good governance, from fighting corruption to respecting the rights of women and the rule of law, we are maximizing our ability to fight poverty and transform people's lives," MCC Chief Executive Officer Dana J. Hyde stressed.
"We are pleased to announce the selection of Burkina Faso, Sri Lanka, and Tunisia for new compact partnerships to advance widespread economic growth for the people and communities in these countries," it added.
Burkina Faso successfully completed its first MCC compact in July 2014, and has demonstrated clear policy improvement on its scorecard since the election of its new government in 2015.
Sri Lanka, which was selected in December 2015 for a threshold program, will now transition into the compact program after showing continued improvement on its scorecard, including demonstrated progress on democratic rights. Tunisia is a new compact partner for MCC.
As part of the annual selection process, the Board also reselected a number of countries in program development to continue developing their compacts, including Cote d'Ivoire, Mongolia, Nepal, and Senegal.
The Board noted that it expects Mongolia to demonstrate improved performance in combating corruption, and deferred a vote on the reselection of Lesotho for compact development until governance concerns have been addressed.
Finally, the Board selected Kosovo and Timor-Leste to develop MCC threshold programs, and reselected Togo to continue developing its threshold program.
The smaller threshold program gives MCC the opportunity to engage with countries specifically on policy and institutional reform.
Source: Philippines News Agency