IT HAS been described as an “investment in the next generation,” with its supposed results of millions of healthier, better educated Filipinos not expected to be realized anytime soon. But the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program is also an investment that is drawing a substantial chunk of its capital from foreign loans, a fact that has many observers raising red flags.
“The poor of the future will be the ones who will carry the burden of paying off this debt,” says Freedom from Debt Coalition Executive Director Milo Tanchuling, who believes it would be better if the CCT relied on locally sourced funds. That the government is also vague about alternative funding prospects for the program has only made those like Tanchuling uneasy – and wondering if it’s an initiative that is sustainable.
BENIGNO Simeon ‘Noynoy’ C. Aquino III became the Philippines’ 15th president on June 30, 2010 or exactly 70 days ago, triggering a contagion of hopefulness among Filipinos. He wooed and won votes with a slogan that was simple, yet catchy: ”Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” Without corruption, there’d be no poverty.
The second Aquino presidency has spread a virus of hope that finds sole parallel in the tide of goodwill that Filipinos bestowed on his late mother and democracy icon Corazon ‘Cory’ C. Aquino after the 1986 EDSA People Power revolt.
Indeed, Aquino’s campaign equation of “no corruption = no poverty” has animated Filipinos so much that the expectations are great that he will deliver results soon.
WORLD BANK investigators looking into alleged collusion and corruption in Bank-funded road projects came very close to catching the conspirators while meeting to fix the bids, according to the Notice of Sanctions Proceedings dated March 2008 that summarized the Bank’s findings.
It happened on November 7, 2006, when the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) held an auction for a civil-works contract on a section of the Surigao-Davao coastal road, one of the many sub-projects of the $150-million National Roads Improvement and Management Project-1 (NRIMP-1).
THEY MAY have played vastly different roles but both the suspects and the whistle-blowers in the World Bank investigation on collusion and corruption in Bank-funded road projects in the Philippines have one thing in common: They all bagged some of the biggest public works contracts from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
But even bigger in value and number are the DPWH contracts obtained by the firms that served as whistle-blowers and witnesses — who were not sanctioned — in the investigation conducted by the World Bank’s anti-corruption unit, the powerful Department of Institutional Integrity (INT).
CORRUPTED TO the core, and entirely, by a “cartel” of kickback-takers with support from the highest levels of the Philippine government.
In gist, this is the damning conclusion of the World Bank’s anti-corruption unit, the powerful and dreaded Department of Institutional Integrity (INT) regarding the Bank-funded National Road Improvement and Management Project-1 (NRIMP-1).
IN INVESTIGATING the alleged collusion and overpricing of World Bank-funded road projects in the Philippines, the international financial institution’s powerful and dreaded anti-corruption unit, the Department of Institutional Integrity (INT), conducted interviews for almost three years in at least three countries. By the time it wound up its work, it had interviewed some 60 people.
The 230-page Part II of the Notice of Sanctions Proceedings is perhaps the first solid and extensive documentation of the myriad, if also conflicting, cases of collusion and corruption in the public works sector, according to industry players themselves.
LAST JANUARY 21, at a House of Representatives committee hearing on the alleged collusion and corruption in World Bank-financed road projects, Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr. offered a quaint proposition. He said it should be the Bank that should be sanctioned and not the contractors who won the bids under a cloud of collusion and overpricing.
“(Hindi) dapat i-sanction ang mga contractors,” said Gonzales, one of the vice chairmen of the committee on public works and highways that was conducting the hearing. Instead, he asserted, it should be the World Bank that should be put under scrutiny.
COLLUSION, LIKE beauty, may be in the eyes of the beholder — or the investigators — at least as far as public-works projects in the Philippines are concerned.
When the World Bank’s powerful and dreaded anti-corruption unit, the Department of Institutional Integrity (INT), looked closely into three rounds of international public tenders for two Bank-funded road projects in the Philippines between 2002 and 2006, it found convincing proof of collusion and excessive pricing among some of the 15 Filipino and foreign bidders.
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