Gov’t vows transparency in aid utilization
MANILA, Philippines - As international aid continued to pour in for victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda, the government launched yesterday the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub or FAiTH, a pioneering web portal that allows the public to monitor foreign assistance to the country in response to calamities.
Budget Undersecretary and chief information officer Richard Bon Moya said FAiTH is a first for the government, which previously did not have a system to track the use of disaster relief funds donated by other countries and aid organizations.
“There’s an urgent call for us to monitor the movement of foreign aid for Yolanda victims so they will go exactly where they’re supposed to: the survivors of the typhoon for whom recovery will be a long and arduous process, and to the communities that need to be rehabilitated as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Moya said.
“FAiTH is the Aquino administration’s pioneering response to this growing need for transparency and accountability in the management of humanitarian donations,” he added.
The portal, which can be accessed at www.gov.ph/faith, shows comprehensive information on humanitarian aid.
Comprising the FAiTH monitoring team are the Department of Budget and Management, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Finance, Commission on Audit, Department of Social Welfare and Development, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, the Presidential Management Staff and the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office under the Office of the President.
“Contrary to what people think, foreign aid is not given to the Philippine government in hard cash. Instead, these arrive in the form of pledges, which are released to aid groups or their corresponding organizations in the country such as USAID and Red Cross. In cases like this, FAiTH does not monitor these funds. Instead, it tracks foreign aid that is coursed through Philippine government agencies,” Moya said.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said that the government’s efforts to boost foreign aid transparency should go hand-in-hand with civil society and donor initiatives to improve accountability in the management of disaster funding in line with the International Aid Transparency Initiative.
“Working together, the Philippine government and the global community can accomplish much toward rebuilding the communities damaged by Yolanda and restoring normalcy to the lives of those who were affected by the typhoon,” Abad said.
“While the Philippines is no stranger to calamity, Yolanda exceeded expectations around the world in the most unfortunate way possible. The Aquino administration and the Filipino people are grateful for the generosity of the international community, as well as for the continuing selflessness of our relief and rescue workers, including those from the government, citizens’ groups and various aid organizations,” he added.
Foreign aid reaches P10.6 B
Foreign donations for the victims of Yolanda reached P10.6 billion as of yesterday, the DFA said.
“Pledges and delivered assistance from 43 foreign governments and three international organizations are estimated at $248 million as of 3 p.m.,” DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said on his Twitter account.
The United Nations last week launched a $301-million flash appeal for typhoon victims in the Visayas.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, around 11.3 million people were affected by the typhoon in nine regions. -With Helen Flores