The Duterte administration has posted a historic first by raising the highest amount of official development assistance (ODA)—Php 1 trillion—in just seven months in office.
”From July 1st to now, the President has raised close to one trillion pesos in ODA. And I’m only counting the amounts from China and Japan, and there’s more ODA that we have received but haven’t counted in from various countries,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said, emphasizing that he was referring to ODA alone, not trade deals.
ODA refers to outright grants and loans given by foreign governments to support developing countries by providing low-interest and long-term or concessional funds to finance the latter’s development efforts.
To date, the ODA from China and Japan totaled to US18 billion, at US$9 billion each. “The ODA from Japan, as announced by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is one trillion yen, which is equivalent to more or less US$9 billion,” Dominguez said.
ODA from China
For the ODA from China, Dominguez said, the government has already submitted the list of projects to China last November, which include the rehabilitation of the Agus River project that would include irrigation projects in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and a seaport in Cebu, among other infrastructure projects.
”Our team is going to China in the third week of January to discuss how to make progress in the projects that we have submitted to them,” Dominguez said.
ODA from Japan
For the financial assistance from Japan, the Finance chief said, the administration will start lining up the projects on Monday, January 16, to discuss in more detail the terms from Japan.
The finance chief clarified that the foreign aid from China and Japan countries were not requested but voluntary offers from the two countries.
”I think they (China and Japan) are collaborating to help our country more ahead. I think they see a lot of potential in the Philippine economy, potential for our growth and potential for them to do business here,” Dominguez concluded, adding the administration will still welcome ODA from other countries as long as the offers match the government’s priorities.
Confidence in Duterte’s leadership
For his part, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the P1 trillion ODA from China and Japan alone in less than seven months “reflects these countries’ complete trust and confidence in the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte.”
”The ODA from China and Japan as well as from other countries will certainly offset the loss of our allotment in the Millennium Fund from the United States following the Obama administration’s unfounded allegations of human rights violations in the course of President Duterte’s war on drugs,” Andanar pointed out.
Sustaining economic gains
”The Philippine is the fastest growing economy in Asia based on our third-quarter performance last year. We expect to build upon this milestone this year and post even better-than-expected growth,” Andanar said.
”We are the chair of the ASEAN this year as it commemorates its 50th year. This and the Miss Universe pageant offer opportunities for the country to put its best foot forward and show the world that we are moving ahead with great strides,” he added.
Andanar said that once the Duterte administration has made significant progress in the war on drugs and corruption, it can focus more and more on economic construction and fighting poverty by attracting more foreign investments as well as ODA and creating more jobs for Filipinos.###