RP-US sign environment, energy pact
MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) The United States will extend $73 million in grants for environment and energy programs in the Philippines over six years under a new bilateral agreement that was signed in Malacañang on Tuesday.
The agreement was signed amid reports that Manila stood to lose foreign aid due to allegations of massive corruption, the latest of which was the alleged rigging of bids for infrastructure projects funded by the World Bank.
The $73-million grant would be used to fund within the year several projects that include renewable energy, rural electrification, and biodiversity conservation, said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto, who signed for the Philippine government.
United States Agency for International Assistance (USAID) mission director Jon Lindborg signed for the US government.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and US Ambassador Kristie Kenney witnessed the signing at the Palace’s Rizal Hall.
Kenney said the Philippines had been recognized as an “environment superpower” since it has been blessed with abundant natural resources, and the President, an avid scuba diver, could attest to this.
“But with this great richness comes extraordinary responsibility to protect those resources, to pass it on to the next generation, to look for cleaner, greener ways to develop business, cleaner and greener sources of energy,” she said in a speech.
“The agreement we signed today marks going forward on a great partnership we already share,” she said.
Asked about a newspaper report that foreign aid to the Philippines could be downscaled due to corruption, Kenney said: “You’ve just seen us sign a new environment and clean energy agreement so we’re obviously pushing forward with our assistance.”
“We do so in a very transparent way, our assistance is grant assistance and we work to make sure it is extremely transparent, which is a key in all contracting,” she said.
In a speech, during the signing, Recto acknowledged: “The results of decades of neglect and corruption will not be easily resolved, in fact, there is still so much to be done.”
But Recto said the corruption allegations have not affected the flow of foreign aid so far.
“I’m not fearful about that because I’ve not seen any downscaling as far as the Philippines is concerned… I’ve seen continued interest in funding projects in the Philippines with our program partners as well,” he said.
View article as posted on INQUIRER.net