Wednesday, April 09, 2008

US Corporation Aims to Revive Financial Aid to the Arroyo Murder & Corruption Fund

April 3, 2008

Reference: Berna Ellorin, Secretary-General, BAYAN USA, email: secgen@bayanusa. org

US Corporation Aims to Revive Financial Aid to the Arroyo Murder & Corruption Fund
MCC Must Withdraw Philippines' "Compact Eligible" Status-- BAYAN USA

The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, an alliance of 12 Filipino organizations across the United States, is urging the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Board to immediately withdraw its claim that the Philippine government is eligible for it's annual Compact Grant.

Last March 11th, Philippine Finance Secretary Margarito Teves confirmed that the MCC Board had selected the Philippines as "Compact Eligible".

As an eligible candidate, the Philippine government can apply for up to USD300 million in MCC funds for social and economic programs. Malacanang is currently working on a proposal to submit to the MCC Board this year.

The Arroyo government has boasted for years, despite international scrutiny and criticism, of implementing a clean governance and enacting a campaign against corruption and poverty, standards by which the MCC Board selects it annual Compact Grant recipients.

In 2007, the Arroyo government was exposed for involvement in the anomalous ZTE-NBN scam and cash bribery of politicians for favors. In early 2008, the key whistleblower on the ZTE-NBN deal, Jun Lozada, disappeared upon arrival in the Philippines before eventually surfacing to testify.

"The MCC Board should immediately reconsider its position on the Philippines. It must know that any financial aid to the Arroyo government will be funneled towards graft, corruption, and human rights violations," states BAYAN USA Chair Chito Quijano.

Quijano mentioned that the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a Washington DC-based company under the supervision of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, is acting in collusion with the Arroyo government to circumvent growing concern within the US Congress to the repercussions of an increase US military aid to the Philippines. In 2007, wide-scale legislative advocacy and a public US Senate hearing called visible attention to the correlation between an increase in US aid and increase in killings and abductions in the Philippines.

At least 49 influential US lawmakers signed onto a letter calling for restrictions on US aid to the Philippines as a result of these advocacy campaigns.

In a recent visit to Hong Kong, an ill-received President Arroyo declared US-Philippine relations as "stronger than ever" and that both countries are "working for peace and development. "

"The Filipino people are probably the most pro-American people in the world, maybe even more pro-American than the Americans themselves," she said.

"Underneath the veneer of arrogant confidence lies a very desperate and unhinged Arroyo administration, " Quijano stated.

The 2008 US Appropriations Bill included definitive restrictive language on US military aid to the Philippines after much pressure from churches, community organizations, and human rights institutions. The threat of a cut in financial aid from the US government has caused the paranoid Arroyo government to hire its own lobbying machinery in Washington DC to undo these efforts.

"By using the MCC, the US and Arroyo governments are still acting in partnership to extend the US War on Terror in Asia by way of the Philippines. They will exploit the corporate realm in order to avoid the growing opposition and human rights initiatives of the US legislative branch. Let us not be fooled. The US executive triumvirate of Bush, Cheney, and Gates is intent on funding its surrogate Asian government in Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in any underhanded way it can because Arroyo is performing its dirty work in the Philippines through murderous counter-insurgency and strengthening US military stronghold," Quijano added.

Aside from over 900 documented cases of extrajudicial killings and 300 abductions, graft and corruption is at an all-time high under the Arroyo government. A recent report by the Philippine Ombudsman Aniano Desierto claimed the Philippinhe government has lost over 1.4 trillion pesos (approximately USD100 billion) in Philippine public funds since 1998. Under the Arroyo government, the Philippines continues to lose at least 100 million pesos daily or 36.5 billion pesos annually.

Common practices of corruption under the Arroyo government have included bribery, kickbacks, embezzlement, vote-buying, cronyism and nepotism. This has also included government-sanction ed criminal enterprises of black-marketing and illegal gambling syndicates.###

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