Bad news affects morale – EU envoy

MANILA, Philippines – The European Union’s new ambassador is urging the local media to highlight positive news even as he acknowledges the importance of exposing unsavory developments in the country, particularly in government.

Ambassador Guy Ledoux gave the advice following an admission that the EU had issued a“recovery order” for a certain project. But he stressed the fund that the EU wanted returned had not been misused.

Ledoux did not disclose details of the project or how much was involved.

“It can simply be a consequence of misinterpretation of our complex financial rules or, as in most cases, a request to return unused funds,” he said referring to the recovery order.

“I think this is an example of what the Philippine press attaches a lot of importance to – highlighting everything that goes wrong. I think there are many things that go right. There are many things that are positive and I think we need to have an optimistic view about the future and about what can be achieved,” Ledoux said after responding to questions during a press conference on Thursday on whether the EU could measure the impact of its assistance to Mindanao or if funds could end up in the pockets of corrupt politicians.

“And if in the newspaper day after day you read a depressing news I guess it probably at some stage affects your morale,” he added.

He said the EU can order countries that are beneficiaries of its aid and development assistance to return the funds deemed not spent for the intended purpose.

Ledoux said the EU is set to release in April a report on the status of its development assistance to the Philippines, including projects and activities in Mindanao.

The ambassador said the executive summary indicated that the EU was right to concentrate its development assistance and effort in Mindanao.

“That was the right choice,” he said. “We had development assistance experts who went to Mindanao. We certainly completed our work and our assistance in Mindanao has been effective otherwise they would not have written that report,” Ledoux said. “We’ll have somebody coming in April who will actually present the result of this overall assessment of EU development assistance and whether we are aligned with government policies,” he said.

The EU is the country’s second largest donor with over P11 billion or $ 236 million in grant in 2009 alone, according to the National Economic and Development Authority. –Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star)