Envoy clarifies: Human rights not the sole issue for PH qualification to MCC grant

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 05 2017 07:41 PM

MANILA - Human rights issues are not the only reason why Philippines has not yet qualified for fresh grants from the Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC), United States Ambassador Sung Kim said Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters, Kim said he has yet to receive information about when deliberations for the second compact will happen but clarified that human rights are not the only reason why the grant has not proceeded. 

"It is true that rule of law, due process are part of the comprehensive set of requirements that need to be reviewed and assessed in deciding whether to proceed with the compact or not. But it's not the only factor involved; there are many factors involved in the decision making," he said.

"I think it is a mistake to think that the only reason why MCC compact 2 for the Philippines has not proceeded is because of concerns about human rights. There are other aspects that need to be addressed," he added.

The Philippines has been listed as among the "candidate countries" for new MCC grants due to its income level, which falls under the low-income category as classified by the World Bank.

However, US Embassy press attache Molly Koscina clarified that being a "candidate country" does not automatically mean it is eligible to receive a second MCC grant. 

"It is important to note that being a Candidate Country does not necessarily mean a country is eligible for MCC assistance. The MCC Board of Directors has not made a decision on the Philippines’ eligibility for a second compact," she previously told ABS-CBN News.

The first MCC grant, amounting to $434 million, came into force in May 2011 and ended in May 2016.

The US government set up the MCC to promote economic growth and reduce poverty around the world.

However, countries can only qualify if they "demonstrate a commitment to just and democratic governance, investments in its people, and economic freedom," according to the corporation's website.
 
While Washington has "serious concerns" about the human rights situation in Manila, this would not have "serious negative effect" on the overall relationship of the Philippines and the US, Kim explained.
 
"I don't expect that human rights concerns relate to some implementation aspects of the drug campaign will have broad implications or consequences for overall assistance..." he said.

"I think that's a legitimate and fair concern so if anything, those aspects, those types of assistance may be affected by human rights concerns but not the broader overall assistance or cooperation with the Philippines," he added.

The United States under former president Barack Obama has been a vocal critic of President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs, souring ties between the two countries.

However, upon the assumption of US President Donald Trump, the relationship between the 2 countries have warmed up with some even drawing similarities between the two leaders.

-with a report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News