Viva Salud—an NGO “furthering the right to health and sovereign development”—said it has been financing programs of and building relations with Philippine-based organizations for decades.
Viva Salud website
Another Belgian NGO defends partners tagged as rebel fronts
Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - April 4, 2019 - 1:13pm

MANILA, Philippines — Another Belgian non-governmental organization, whose assistance the government claims is being diverted to communist rebels, stressed that it monitors fund use and is confident there are no irregularities in how the money is spent.

In a statement, Viva Salud—an NGO “furthering the right to health and sovereign development”—said it has been financing programs of and building relations with Philippine-based organizations for decades.

“Our partners are held in high esteem internationally and, even more importantly, enjoy the support of large local social movements,” Viva Salud said.

The Belgian NGO also stressed that it has its own monitoring system and procedures to ensure the quality of their partners’ work and their proper use of funds.

“No evidence whatsoever has been made public to support these accusations against our partners. We are confident that no irregularities will be brought to light,” it said.

Viva Salud is one of the Belgian NGOs that National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said in a letter to Gilles De Kerchove, European Union counter-terrorism coordinator, has "indirectly and unwittingly partnered" with supposed communist front groups.

According to a Philippine News Agency report, Viva Salud has partnered with Alliance of Health Workers, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Gabriela, IBON Foundation and Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV).

But Viva Salud only lists Gabriela, IBON, Advocates for Community Health and Council for Health and Development on its website as its partners in the Philippines.

Partners under threat

Viva Salud said it is concerned that its partner organizations in the Philippines are under threat amid the allegations of the government as it noted that criminalization of civil society organizations is not a new phenomenon in the Philippines.

“Accusations against some of our partners are unfortunate but not surprising. That is also why we are cooperating with any efforts to refute the accusations against our partners,” it said.

The Belgian NGO added: “Our only fear is for the physical integrity and safety of our friends and partners in the Philippines, whose courage and determination in the midst of these attacks is absolutely remarkable and deserves unwavering solidarity.”

Earlier this week, Solidagro, another Belgian NGO that works with ALCADEV said that it has not found any indications that the school in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, which Solidagro has visited regularly is anything other than that.

"Aside from these on-site visits, that include inspection of program implementation, Solidagro has its set of financial monitoring systems in place, in which all program expenses are audited yearly by ourselves or by an external auditor before reporting to the back-donors, such as the Belgian government, whose representatives have also visited the school before," Solidagro said in an email exchange with Philstar.com.

Solidagro added it had "indeed been informed of the allegations by our government and are in close contact with them for further follow-up." 

The European Union has said it would investigate the claims that funds from the regional bloc are going to communist insurgents after the Philippine government formally requested the probe in March. 

Rights group Karapatan, also labelled by the government as a supposed rebel front, said it is open to an “impartial and participative audit” of its work.

ALLIANCE OF HEALTH WORKERS GABRIELA WOMEN'S PARTY IBON FOUNDATION KILUSANG MAYO UNO NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS
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