MANILA - The Philippines is looking for other bilateral partners after it halted negotiations for loan agreements with 18 governments that supported a UN investigation into President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs.
This despite Malacañang's earlier statement that rejecting loans and grants from those backing Iceland's call for an inquiry into the drug war would have no effect on the economy.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has directed the agency's International Finance Group to review affected projects and find other sources of assistance, the Department of Finance (DOF) said Sunday.
“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," he said in a statement.
Dominguez emphasized that Malacañang's order to suspend negotiations of loan agreement "does not mean a permanent cancellation of the talks."
It only meant a deferment pending the assessment of the Philippines’ relations with the 18 countries, which would be done by the Department of Foreign Affairs, according to the DOF.
The department said only a 21 million-euro "small project loan" from France for the Metro Manila Bus Rapid Transit and a Germany-funded program worth $36 million were affected.
The Philippines has found a substitution for France's loan, while it was still looking for a donor for the German program, the DOF said.
Existing loans and grants with a total of $197.03 million would not be affected by the President's orders, it added.
Of this figure, $172.4 million was from Australia, $4.8 million from Italy, $1.11 million from Spain, $9.74 million from France, and $8.98 million from Germany.