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Thursday, June 13, 2024

PH withdraws from EITI, cites ‘biased’ allegations

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The Philippines said Wednesday it withdrew its membership from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative on the international organization’s alleged questionable metrics and procedures for assessing the compliance of implementing-countries with transparency requirements.

EITI is a global organization of 55 countries that adopt common standards for the good governance of oil, gas and mineral resources.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, in a June 20 letter to EITI chairman and former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark, called EITI’s validation–-a quality assurance assessment process—“subjective, biased and unfair.”

“We find that the manner by which the EITI board undertakes its validation is unduly subjective, biased and unfair. The Philippines has no confidence in the ability of the EITI to undertake an impartial, transparent and evidence-based validation process,” said Dominguez.

The Department of Finance chairs the Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative—a multi-stakeholder body that governs the implementation of the EITI in the Philippines.

Extractive companies in implementing-countries are engaged to publicly disclose data on taxes, royalties and other payments they make to the government and their host-communities.

Dominguez said the Philippines was treated unfairly by the EITI board by using irrelevant metrics and relying on unvalidated reports in assessing the status of civic space in the extractives sector.

The EITI, according to its statement on Feb. 17, 2022, identified alleged instances of intimidation of civil society activists and journalists. It allegedly identified  “the apparent use of the 2020 Anti-Terrorism Act to justify attempts at police intervention, judicial action or intimidation which may have limited civil society freedoms.”

The DOF repeatedly sought the details of alleged issues on civic space to enable the government to address the same. The EITI, however, has not supplied the requested details.

Dominguez called out EITI for its lack of due process and imposing actions on the Philippines that violate the country’s sovereignty.

“We refuse to be taken hostage by unverified allegations from foreigners and people who have no mandate from the electorate,” Dominguez said.

The Philippines has been implementing the EITI since 2013.

The EITI in 2016 recognized the country for its impactful implementation. EITI implementing-countries undergo validation every three years. In 2017, the Philippines was declared the first among more than 50 countries in the world to have achieved satisfactory progress in meeting the EITI requirements.

The Philippines over the years demonstrated innovation and best practices in the areas of contract and beneficial ownership transparency and social, environmental, employment and gender data disclosures, according to the DOF.

It said the Philippines sustained and broadened stakeholder engagement amid extreme situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dominguez said despite the withdrawal from the EITI, the Philippines has the process, systems and manpower to ensure transparency in the extractives sector.

“The government will continue to champion better resource and revenue management, and ensure that resource utilization remains open, accountable and responsive to the needs and aspirations of Filipinos,” he said.

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