PH rule of law rating drops in U.S. scorecard for aid

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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PH rule of law rating drops in U.S. scorecard for aid

Malacañan Photo

Malacañang says the US findings 'may not completely reflect' the Duterte administration's efforts to promote good governance and fight corruption

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines’ rule of law rating dropped in the scorecard used by the United States to determine if a country can receive aid from its Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).

The Philippines scored -0.01 on rule of law in the MCC scorecard that was released on Thursday, November 2. 

The rating was based on data from World Bank/Brookings WGI as of 2016.

The Philippines got the following scores on rule of law in the past years:

  • 2016:  -0.01
  • 2015:  0.04
  • 2014:  0.04 
  • 2013:  0.11
  • 2012 :   0

On rule of law, the Philippines’ percentile ranking in its income group was 47%.

The Philippines’ low rating in this area comes as President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs kills thousands, fueling concern even among US officials. 

In the same scorecard, the Philippines’ rating on control of corruption also dropped.

The Philippines got a score of 0 on control of corruption, based on data from World Bank/Brookings WGI as of 2016.

On this aspect, the Philippines’ ratings through the years are as follows: 

  • 2016:  0
  • 2015:  0.04
  • 2014:  0.05
  • 2013:  0.15
  • 2012:  0.02

For control of corruption, the Philippines’ percentile ranking in its income group was 50%.

The Philippines, on the other hand, got higher scores in areas such as political rights, trade policy, and child health in the MCC scorecard

Previous grant not renewed

Created by the US Congress in 2004, the MCC is an independent US foreign aid agency helping fight global poverty.  

The MCC said it “forms partnerships with some of the world’s poorest countries, but only those committed to good governance, economic freedom, and investing in their citizens.”

The MCC scorecard is part of a 4-step process to identify countries eligible for MCC assistance. 

In December 2016, the MCC decided not to renew a major aid package to the Philippines because of “significant concerns” about the rule of law under President Rodrigo Duterte.

The previous 5-year grant, which was worth $433.9 million, expired in May 2016.

US embassy spokesperson Molly Koscina said in December 2016, “MCC will continue to monitor unfolding events in the Philippines and underscores that all country partners are expected to maintain eligibility, which includes not just a passing scorecard but also a demonstrated commitment to the rule of law, due process, and respect for human rights.”

Malacañang reaction

Malacañang on Friday, November 3, reacted to the recently released MCC scorecard.

“We have to understand that for this year’s scorecard, the ratings in the various indicators were based on their methodologies in 2014, 2015, and 2016. The findings, therefore, may not completely reflect the reform initiatives of the Duterte administration in the area of fighting corruption and good governance,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said. 

Roque cited Duterte’s decision to fire government officials due to reported corruption, his “implementation of Freedom of Information in the executive branch,” his moves to cut red tape, and his administration’s seriousness in “running after big-time tax delinquents.”

“We are hopeful that the MCC Board would take into account these initiatives and see our commitment to further reforms in the areas covered by the compact assistance,” Roque said. 

Duterte earlier lashed out at the US when the MCC Board decided in December 2016 not to renew its grant for the Philippines. 

Referring to the MCC grant, Duterte said, “We’ll be glad to lose it. I also suggest they start packing.”


Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano has said the Philippines will reject foreign donations that come with “conditionalities that will affect our sovereignty.” –

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior multimedia reporter covering religion for Rappler. He also teaches journalism at the University of Santo Tomas. For story ideas or feedback, email