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PH fails corruption controlling standards

THE Philippines received low scores in controlling corruption and ensuring the rule of law, according to the 2018 Scorecard of US aid agency Millennium Challenge Corp.  

The country’s percentile ranking in its respective income group was 50 percent after scoring zero in control of corruption and 47 percent in rule of law, after scoring -0.01. This means that the country did not meet the standards set for these areas. 

In terms of democratic rights, the Philippines’ performance met the standard: A score of 27 for political rights and 36 for civil liberties.

It also ranked well in government effectiveness (80 percent) and freedom of information (77 percent).

The MCC, an independent American aid agency created by the US Congress in 2004,  annually comes up with a scorecard for each MCC candidate country, rating it in three policy categories: Ruling Justly, Investing in People, and Encouraging Economic Freedom.The scorecard serves as basis for determining extension of grants to recipient countries, like the Philippines.

Meanwhile, Finance Secretary Carlos DomingueZ III remains optimistic the board of the Millennium Challenge Corp.will consider the Duterte administration’s sweeping reforms to weed out official corruption and adhere to the rule of law in deciding on the eligibility of the country for another MCC assistance program.

 In a statement, Dominguez said the Philippines remained firmly committed to the rule of law and strictly adhered to due process. 

He said President Rodrigo Duterte had made clear his platform of government would be based on zero tolerance for corruption in government. 

“In its first year in office, the Duterte administration has actually been relentless in the campaign against corruption in government,” Dominguez said.

Dominguez noted, for instance, that President Duterte cleansed the corruption-plagued Bureau of Corrections in just weeks after assuming office by replacing its prison guards with elite personnel from the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police. 

The chief executive also issued an executive order creating the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate administrative cases of corruption involving presidential appointees. 

The Duterte administration also set up the 8888 Citizens Complaint Hotline in October last year to receive complaints against corruption and inefficiencies in government, among other measures. 

In terms of economic freedom, however, the Philippines’ percentile rankings were way below the standard, in terms of gender in the economy (13 percent), access to credit (13 percent), and business start-up (43 percent).

In other areas, the Philippines performed well in fiscal policy (87 percent), regulatory quality (87 percent), trade policy (67 percent), and land rights and access (59 percent).

The country also garnered a score of 1.8 in terms of inflation.

Lastly, in terms of investing in people—the country meeting the percentile rankings were way below in health expenditures, as opposed to its respective income group at only 13 percent, while getting a score of 83.0 for immunization rates.

The country met the standard in these areas under the category Investing in People: 73 percent for natural resource protection, 70 percent for child health, and 55 percent for girls’ secondary education enrollment rate.

No score, meanwhile, was given in terms of primary education expenditures, which had a median score of 1.58. 

Responding to the latest results of the scorecard, Dominguez blamed “inherent time lags” in the third-party data used by the MCC to assess the Philippines. 

“The data on which the ‘control of corruption’ indicator was based and released in September 2017 primarily covers the events of 2016,” Dominguez said. 

“‘Control of corruption’ and ‘rule of law’ scores, for example, were based on an aggregation of quantitative assessments and perception surveys that were collected by the World Bank Worldwide Governance Indicators in conjunction with the Brookings Institution based on information for the events of 2016,” the Finance chief said. 

Acting Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque likewise said he was hopeful that the MCC Board would take into account the anti-graft initiatives of the Duterte administration, and its commitment to reform areas which were covered by the compact assistance.

“We have to understand that for this year’s Scorecard, the ratings in the various indicators were based on their methodologies in 2014, 2015 and 2016.  The findings, therefore, may not completely reflect the reform initiatives of the Duterte administration in the area of fighting corruption and good governance,” Roque said. 

“The President has fired government officials from their posts, including those who were perceived to be close to him, due to reports of corruption,” he added. 

Among those that Duterte had undertaken “towards restoring people’s faith and trust in the government by making government services accessible to the public,” is through “the implementation of the Freedom of information in the executive branch, cutting red tape and streamlining the delivery of frontline services, and establishing hotlines such as 8888 for public complaints and 911 for emergencies and government centers to receive public concerns.”

The current government is likewise serious in its revenue-collection efforts, including running after big-time tax delinquents, “such as Mighty Corp., Sunvar Realty Development Corp. and Philippine Air Lines,” Roque said. 

Dominguez said the Philippines remained confident the MCC would consider the latest government efforts against corruption and adherence to the rule of law in deciding on the eligibility of the country for another MCC assistance program.  

“The scorecards are only one of the factors that the MCC Board takes into consideration when making reselection decisions,” Dominguez said.

“We are confident that the board will take into consideration relevant information and recent data on our very deliberate efforts to improve the ‘control of corruption and adherence to the ‘rule of law,’ indicators,” he added. 

In December 2016, MCC deferred the selection of the Philippines to receive a multi-billion dollar development grant, citing concerns on “rule of law and civil liberties.”

The MCC compact is only one of the many streams of US assistance that flows to the Philippines.   

The Philippines however, was then re-selected for consideration of a second MCC “compact” or aid grant, a full six months before the first compact was concluded.

Dominguez said “the Philippines’ partnership with the MCC can contribute to making progress in terms of maintaining the country’s growth momentum, improving competitiveness, institutionalizing good governance, and moving closer to our shared objective of inclusive growth.”

The MCC compact is only one of the many streams of US assistance that flows to the Philippines. 

“The Philippines remains one of the largest recipients of US assistance in Asia.  The US values the partnership of the Philippines on shared interests, especially in countering violent extremism, and in promoting stability across the region,” Dominguez said.

“The scorecards are only one of the factors that the MCC Board takes into consideration when making reselection decisions. We are confident that the board will take into consideration relevant information and recent data on our very deliberate efforts to improve the ‘control of corruption and adherence to the ‘rule of law,’ indicators,” Dominguez said. 

Dominguez noted there were “inherent time lags” in the third-party data used by the MCC in assessing the annual country scorecard for the Philippines.  

“The data on which the ‘Control of Corruption’ indicator was based and released in September 2017 primarily covers the events of 2016,” Dominguez said. 

The MCC website states that its country scorecards use “information collected from independent, third-party sources” for “an objective comparison of all candidate countries.” 

According to Dominguez, in the Philippines’ case, the “‘Control of Corruption’ and ‘Rule of Law’ scores, for example, were based on an aggregation of quantitative assessments and perception surveys that were collected by the World Bank Worldwide Governance Indicators in conjunction with the Brookings Institution based on information for the events of 2016.” 

“We have been informed that we are at the median level in these two indicators, which we believe we can improve as we work together with the MCC to enlighten them about our effective efforts to weed out corruption in the Philippine bureaucracy,” Dominguez said.   

The Philippines was re-selected for consideration of a second MCC “compact” or aid grant, a full six months before the first compact was concluded.

The Philippines was awarded a five-year, $434-million package in 2010. The so-called “compact” ended in May 2016 and the MCC board said the country was eligible for a new package.

But MCC last December 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.

Funds provided in the first 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 Services, and the construction of 137 miles of roads and 61 bridges in Samar.

 

Topics: 018 Scorecard of US aid agency Millennium Challenge Corp.

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