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PH tries to woo US aid, cites antigraft measures

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. INQUIRER.net file photo / RYAN LEAGOGO

The Duterte administration on Friday defended its efforts to fight corruption in a bid to convince the United States to continue providing development assistance following the expiry in May last year of an initial five-year grant of $434 million.

The US government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation cited human rights concerns last year in deferring its vote on aid for Manila, prompting a remark from a furious President Duterte that the America’s money could be replaced.

Short of target

The Philippines fell short of the “control of corruption” target on the MCC’s scorecard for fiscal 2018, which determines a country’s eligibility for assistance.

Incoming presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the independent US aid agency may not have considered all of the administration’s reform initiatives in fighting corruption.

“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,” Roque said in a statement.

“The findings, therefore, may not completely reflect the reform initiatives of the Duterte administration in the area of fighting corruption and good governance,” he added.

Mr. Duterte has fired government officials over corruption allegations, ordered agencies to open their records to the public, cut red tape and set up a hotline for people to report graft, Roque said.

Initiatives

Roque said the administration had set up the 8888 hotline to receive complaints from the public.

“We are hopeful that the MCC board would take into account these initiatives and see our commitment to further reforms in the areas covered by the compact assistance,” Roque said.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez also weighed in, saying the President had been “relentless in the campaign against corruption in government.” —WITH REPORTS FROM LEILA B. SALAVERRIA, THE WIRES

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