MANILA -- The Philippines has decided to withdraw its application for the next round of development aid from a US-based agency to focus its resources and attention on rebuilding Marawi City, Malacañang said Tuesday.

“We have opted to withdraw from the second Millennium Challenge and this is because of the urgent priority of the administration to rebuild Marawi,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace briefing.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), which was created by the US Congress in 2004, is an independent US foreign aid agency that is helping lead the fight against global poverty.

The first MCC compact or grant amounting to USD 434 million, came into force from May 2011 to May 2016.

Roque said that the first compact was responsible for the implementation of secondary national road development projects; the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services; and Revenue Administration Reform Project of the Department of Finance.

The Palace spokesperson pointed out, however, that funding for projects under the MCC compact are complemented with counterpart funds – funds that could be re-allocated for the “costly rebuilding” of Marawi City.

“We have to earmark funds also because these are projects with counterpart funds and of course, this will also focus on previously identified projects. And we have decided that our resources and our priority will be the rebuilding of Marawi for the time being,” Roque said.

He said that the Philippine government hopes that its decision to temporarily withdraw from the MCC would not be taken against it by the US government, which it had earlier invited to for continuous support and assistance for the reconstruction of Marawi.

“We are confident that the US government fully understands the decision to reallocate our funding priority for this year and that this will not, in any way, adversely impact our eligibility for another round of compact assistance in the future because it calls for counterpart financing as well,” Roque said. (PNA)