EU allots P10.9-B aid for Mindanao, energy projects nationwide

Development assistance worth EUR170 million or PHP10.88 billion for Mindanao and energy projects all over the Philippines will be up for negotiation with the Philippine government, an executive from the European Union (EU) said.

“We have an ongoing commitment of EUR260 million, some of them are actually contracted for implementation,” said Stefano Marservisi, European Commission Director General for International Cooperation and Development, who also revealed the bloc had agreed to modify future financial contracts with the Duterte administration.

Marservisi said the EUR170 million is fixed but may increase by around EUR30 million up to EUR50 million, depending on the projects to be implemented, through the investment with Asian Development Bank, World Bank, and other multilateral development banks.

At present, the EU has an ongoing development assistance worth EUR260 million to the Philippines, focused on civil society, capacity building, technical assistance, and electrification programs.

For the period of 2014 to 2020, the EU has allocated a total of EUR325 million or PHP20.79 billion to the Philippines. Its last component, a EUR170-million worth development aid, is still up for signature.

To recall, President Rodrigo Duterte had rejected the assistance from the bloc, citing its meddling with the country’s internal affairs.

With the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) recently enforced after ratification, Marservisi is optimistic the two parties can sit down and discuss what needs adjustment on development talks.

During a meeting with high-ranking officials from the Philippine government, he said the issue of human rights was not discussed.

“No, we didn’t discuss this, we discussed energy, Mindanao, and the mutual interest that we have in the region and what are the common interest in doing cooperation in the Philippines,” he said.

Marservisi said development projects “can go on as it is”, given the current stage the EU is in, when it comes to implementing assistance on energy.

“It is precisely on this we are advancing in order to finalize the text and to make it even clear in the light of the recently adopted PCA,” he explained. “To find the right way to be coherent in this new agreement… we are now finalizing texts.”

In a symposium on Friday, Marservisi also joined National Economic and Development Administration (NEDA) Secretary Ernesto Pernia and executives from the Department of Energy to discuss cooperation in providing power to small businesses in off-grid areas through stand-alone solar energy.

The solar-powered small businesses will be piloted in Davao and Bohol, before replication in other off-grid sites throughout the country.

The solar power options for small businesses are based on a feasibility study conducted late 2017 in three off-grid communities in Davao and Bohol by the EU-supported Access to Sustainable Energy Programme. PNA