Wednesday, June 16, 2010
U-S TO TEST AQUINO ANTI-CORRUPTION PLEDGE
It appears the Obama administration is bent on holding incoming President Noynoy to his campaign pledge to curb corruption in government.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Board, headed by State Secretary Hillary Clinton, met today (June 16) to discuss the various pending proposals for millions of dollars worth of poverty-fighting grants, including $434 million for the Philippines.
“The Board reiterated its desire for a commitment by the new administration to the ideals and principles of MCC, including fighting corruption, and to the compact’s objectives and implementation,” they said in a statement.
The Philippines was on track to receive the grant earlier this year until the MCC decided to defer the Compact proposal because the Arroyo administration continued to flunk the all-critical corruption test.
The MCC Board decided in March to wait for the winner of the national elections last May before moving forward with the Philippine proposal.
As a candidate Aquino ran behind a platform of fighting graft, blaming the country’s rampant poverty on widespread government corruption – a sentiment that appears to resonate loudly in the Obama administration, if its latest declarations serves as barometer.
The Philippines proposed to invest the MCC grant in community-based rural development programs focusing on poor areas that is expected to benefit five million Filipinos;
A 220-kilometer road building and rehabilitation project cutting across the most depressed barangays of Eastern Visayas; and the computerization of the Bureau of Internal Revenue that is aimed at improving collections while reducing opportunities for grant and corruption.
The State Department had earlier released the 2010 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report which covered over 170 countries, including the Philippines which it placed in a critical watch list for the second straight year.
But in a clear signal to President-elect Aquino, the MCC said it will take up the Philippine proposal this year (the Board meets quarterly) together with Jordan and Malawi, and ahead of Indonesia, Zambia and Cape Verde whose applications for grants would be taken up in 2011.
n the meeting today, Secretary Clinton and the rest of the members of the MCC Board were briefed on ongoing discussions with Philippine officials.