Monday, May 22, 2017

Hontiveros to Gov't: Identify Aid with Unjust Conditionalities

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday challenged the Duterte government to show to the public aid, grants and loans that it deemed had unjust conditionalities and could interfere with the country's state of affairs.

Hontiveros issued the statement after the government decided to reject aid from the European Union (EU) citing unfair conditionalities that could possibly interfere with domestic affairs.

Four questions

"I have four basic questions for the government. First, which of the EU aid packages had unfair conditionalities? Can the government provide the public a list? Second, what exactly were the unjust conditionalities in the said grants and/or aid that could interfere with our national affairs? Third, how could the said conditionalities possibly interfere in our domestic affairs? Fourth, what audit mechanism was used by the government in rejecting the said aid?" Hontiveros asked.

Hontiveros also asked the Duterte government if the billions of dollars in loans acquired from China are free from any conditionalities. The senator said that in the spirit of fairness and transparency, the government should divulge all the details regarding the Chinese loans.

Tied Chinese loans?

"Since the government said that it is their policy to reject all aid and loans from countries with unjust conditionalities, I therefore ask, are Chinese loans without any conditionalities? Are they not tied loans? Are they not tied to Chinese companies, contractors, supplies, technical experts and manpower? Were Chinese loans given with the condition that the Philippines will not enforce against China the UN-supported arbitral decision of the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal? Can the government provide the public the loan contracts and other documents to ascertain that they, too, will not interfere with our national affairs? Are Chinese loans in accordance with the principles on promoting responsible sovereign lending and borrowing by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)? Hontiveros further queried.

Hontiveros said that unless the government can provide the public more information about the supposed unfairness of EU aid, its decision appears to be a retaliation for the criticisms that the regional bloc aired on the human rights situation in the country.

"Walk the talk, conduct a debt audit"

"To answer all these questions, I call on the government to walk the talk and conduct a comprehensive debt audit as called for by Senate Resolution 253 and the debt audit provision we've managed to include in the 2017 General Appropriations Act. There is a strong need to scrutinize all the loan agreements the Philippines has entered into, if they are legitimate and not riddled with questionable processes, contractual obligations, purposes and use. These include the recently acquired loans from China," Hontiveros stressed.

"If the government is serious in rejecting aid and loans with unjust conditions, it must be based on the appraisal of a debt audit process conducted in partnership with social movements working on debt and development issues. The principle of rejecting aid and loans with unfair and onerous conditions should apply to all, whether they are from EU or China," Hontiveros concluded.

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