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Construction, and alleged corruption, in the Philippines

Take a trip down a key Filipino highway — if you can.

And then there’s corruption. Indeed, many now say that Samar’s problem with its roads and highways reflects the larger problem of corruption in the Philippines. It is a problem that the World Bank, which finances multimillion-dollar development and infrastructure projects here, is particularly concerned about.

In January the World Bank, in a controversial move, sanctioned seven contractors. The sanctions were allegedly due to “collusive practices” in a major project to upgrade and rehabilitate 870 miles of the country’s highway network, including Samar. The first phase of the project, which is nearing completion, was financed partly through a $150 million loan from the bank.

As various investigations in the past have shown, corruption in the Philippines is rampant.

“Misuse of public money is a problem for everyone. It deprives the poorest people of the development funds that are so vitally needed and it undermines public confidence in public and private institutions,” James Adams, the bank’s vice president for East Asia, said in January.

But the construction, and the alleged corruption, continues. These days, farmers in Samar can be seen gathering by the roadside. Children are back playing, many of them sprinting along the highway as they head home from school. Rice grains are neatly spread on blue and orange tarps that flap as each vehicle passes by.

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