Recently, the Millennium Challenge Account-Philippines vowed to complete anti-poverty projects funded by the U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation. The MCA-P marked May 2016 as the new deadline for project completion.

The announcement of this new goal came just one month after an important meeting in Washington D.C. In May, the social welfare and development secretary for the Philippines and CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation met at the MCC headquarters to publicly reaffirm their “strong partnership.”

During the meeting, Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman praised the partnership for strengthening the country’s democratization process. She acclaimed the MCC’s support of the Philippine Government’s community-driven development approach. This approach has encouraged ordinary citizens to become more civically engaged.

Soliman went on to praise MCC’s support of the Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services program in the Philippines. She explained that it is one of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s three core social protection programs working to alleviate poverty.

The $434 million First Philippine Compact was originally implemented on May 25, 2011. Its mission is to allow poor communities to develop small-scale projects and manage assets sustainably, reduce transportation costs and increase the efficiency of revenue collection through the computerization of business processes.

In response to a Commission on Audit report that reproached the DSWD for its slow utilization of the $434 million grant, Marivic Anonuevo, MCA-P Managing Director and CEO, assured anti-poverty project completion by the scheduled end of the Compact: May 2016. She attempted to calm the nerves of American skeptics.

Anonuevo stressed that the MCA-P has returned a total of P600 million in unused government funds that were previously allocated for anti-poverty projects. She said that MCA-P management is optimistic that the funds will be fully utilized in the anti-poverty projects by the end of the Compact and also vowed to return unused funds.

She has responded to accusations of inadequacy, neglect and foul play by stating, “Strict MCC guidelines make it impossible to divert funds to other purposes. Everything that we have done has been to help uplift the lives of Filipinos through economic growth.”

Anonuevo pointed out that the MCA-P has completed 2,180 community-driven development programs benefiting approximately half a million households spread out across six regions in the Philippines as of May 2015. Over the next year, the agency will work to bring that number up as quickly and dramatically as possible.

Only time will tell if the agency will be able to fulfill its commitment to maximize anti-poverty efforts. In spite of recent allegations against the DSWD, the U.S.-Filipino partnership seems to still be going strong. Now that the agency has restated their anti-poverty commitment, we can rest easy knowing that we share the same goal.

Sarah Bernard

Sources: Filipino Express,Global Nation,Manila Bulletin
Photo: MCC