Angel's Herald: Noble Sadism

Noble Sadism

Agencies complain of abrupt changes in UNDP projects

Source: Business Mirror, 9 August 2007
By Cai U. Ordinario

SEVERAL government agencies have filed complaints to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Philippines against the supposed abrupt changes implemented on a number of projects funded by the UNDP.

Complainant agencies include the University of the Philippines National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG), National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Mindanao Economic Development Council.

The DOE also complained, specifically, about the removal of project monitoring offices (PMO) in the Philippines. PMOs serve as the main coordinators of a certain project. Former DOE secretary Raphael Lotilla wrote to UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Nileema Noble that one of her circulars shortened the contracts of two Development Support Services Center, (DSSCs), contrary to the directives of the DOE.

According to the Circular Memorandum dated February 15, 2007 from Noble addressed to all UNDP Staff members that all extensions of service contracts of project personnel shall only be valid until April 30, 2007, due to “project administrative costs.”

“It is lamentable that UNDP, which has been advocating a policy of continuous dialogue/consultation with all stakeholders for the smooth implementation of projects, has failed to observe this policy of consultation with its partner agencies, including the DOE, on matters of national importance,” Lotilla wrote.

In a letter to Secretary Lotilla, signed for Noble by UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Kyo Naka, it said the removal of all PMOs has not been a unilateral decision, and that the Neda also took part in the decision-making process. The letter also stated that the government and UNDP signed a joint memorandum to make it clear that the process of cutting short the contracts of DSSCs is a gradual one, over a one-year period ending December 2007.

“The phasing out of the independent PMOs has been accepted as a general principle by Neda and in the context of the implementation of the Paris Declaration Principles, as well as those of the ongoing UN system reform agenda,” the UNDP letter said. For his part, Neda Director General Romulo Neri told BusinessMirror that the agency wrote a letter in support of Mrs. Noble’s efforts to “clean” projects.

“The letter was addressed to all Cabinet secretaries endorsing what Mrs. Noble is doing in the country. I know everything and I am endorsing everything,” Neri said. Meanwhile, NCPAG dean Alex Brillantes Jr. wrote to Mrs. Noble and Neda Deputy Director General Rolando Tungpalan about the decision of the UNDP and Neda to replace the NCPAG as the implementing partner (IP) of the Fostering Democratic Governance (FDG) Program without due process.

“We were, therefore, dismayed by the unilateral decision of the UNDP and Neda to replace NCPAG as the IP for the FDG program. This was done without going through the process of consultation and dialogue, in accordance with the principles of transparency and participation, which are the basic tenets in the practice of good governance that UNDP advocates,” Brillantes wrote.

According to Brillantes’ letter, the UNDP was the one who approached NCPAG in 2005 to become the IP for the project. He added that never in his dealings with multilateral partners, particularly the UN, has transparency, accountability and participation not been implemented.

Brillantes said this was evident in their dealings with the UNDP since the 1960s and their cordial relationships with various UNDP representatives such as Turnham Mangun, Terence (IP) Jones and Deborah Landey.

Meanwhile, \NAPC Secretary General and Lead Convenor Datu Zamzamin Ampatuan wrote to DDG Tungpalan about its Strengthening Institutional Mechanisms for the Convergence of Poverty Alleviation Efforts project funded by the UNDP. The letter said the UNDP and Neda amended and agreed upon implementing arrangements of the projects and removed NAPC as the IP for the project.

Datu Ampatuan also said these changes were not communicated to him when he took over, and that these are against the interests and responsibilities of NAPC. “I wish to convey to you that NAPC is asserting its rightful role as implementing partner, rather than its relegation now as only one of responsible parties. By mandate alone, the shepherding and coordination of poverty reduction programs and activities should be NAPCs,” Ampatuan said.

These unilateral changes have been happening as early as 2005. NCIP chairperson Jannette Serrano wrote to Naka on behalf of the agency regarding their concern for the manner by which the institutional arrangement for the implementation of the Integrated Program for the Empowerment of Indigenous Peoples and Sustainable Development of Ancestral Domains (IP-EIPSDAD) was done.

The NCIP letter, written on November 28, 2005, and received by the UNDP in Manila on December 19, 2005, said it was not involved in the negotiations to change the mode of implementation and terms of reference of the project.

“We would like to put on record that NCIP was never part of this crucial decision. As a matter of fact, this is contrary to the position of Department of Agrarian Reform [DAR] Secretary Nasser Pangandaman, with whom we had the opportunity to discuss the matter prior to the FAO, who maintained that the IP-EIPSDAD should be implemented by the NCIP and not DAR,” Serrano said.

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