Donors sought for projects affected by aid suspension
The head of the Duterte administration’s economic team has instructed the Department of Finance to look for other donors for projects affected by the temporary suspension of financial aid from countries that supported the United Nations’ probe of alleged human rights abuses in the Philippines’ due to its war on illegal drugs.
“We are currently in exploratory talks with our other bilateral partners on how they can assist the Philippine government in funding the grants that were previously under negotiation but were suspended on orders of the President, pending the review by the Department of Foreign Affairs of our country’s relations with countries that had voted for or sponsored the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said in a statement.
Dominguez did not identify the countries or organizations as the talks were still preliminary.
Finance Undersecretary Mark Dennis Y.C. Joven, who heads the international finance group, was tasked to undertake the review.
To recall, 18 countries voted in favor of the UNHRC resolution last July 11: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Iceland, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Uruguay.
Three other non-UNHRC members—France, Germany and Sweden—backed the resolution and were also covered by the Office of the President’s memorandum suspending negotiations for and receipt of grants and loans, according to the DOF.
Dominguez reiterated that the presidential directive “does not mean a permanent cancellation of the talks, but only meant a deferment pending the assessment of the Philippines’ relations with these countries.”
The assessment will be done by the DFA, he said.
The suspension only covers those under negotiation and will not affect existing loans and grants that are already being implemented, he added.
As such, Dominguez said the following ongoing grants worth $197.03 million would not be affected—$172.4 million from Australia; $9.74 million from France; $8.98 million from Germany; $4.8 million from Italy, and $1.11 million from Spain.
“The projects in the pipeline that will be affected are with France, which covers the Metro Manila Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), and those with Germany valued at around $36 million to fund studies mainly on climate change,” Dominguez said.
“In any case, multilateral development financial institutions and other bilateral partners have signified their willingness to finance the 21-million euro project loan” for the BRT project, he said, adding that the DOF was already looking for a new donor-country to cover the earlier German-backed climate change study.
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