No one monitoring ‘Yolanda’ donations–Soliman
MANILA, Philippines—Nobody is keeping tabs on donations given to private, aid and religious organizations for survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman admitted on Monday.
Speaking at a public hearing called by the Senate finance committee, Soliman said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) had no list of individuals and groups that raised funds for victims of the powerful storm.
She said, however, that the DSWD had a list of all those who donated goods to the government through the agency, and a list of those who donated cash directly to the agency.
“We have close to $18 million in donation, direct to the DSWD, and we have P82,685,912 local donation in cash. These are separate from the goods that went through us,” she said.
Cash donated to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) was monitored through the Department of Budget and Management’s Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAiTH) at www.gov.ph/faith, Soliman said.
“I will admit no one,” she said when asked by committee chair Sen. Francis Escudero who was monitoring donations to private entities, local governments, religious organizations, the Philippine Red Cross and nongovernment organizations.
“Right now, there’s no mandate because they’re private entities … . What we can have is persuasive authority,” she said.
The committee looked into the accountability for foreign and local aid for the victims of Yolanda (international name: Haiyan), which ravaged the Visayas on Nov. 8 last year.
In the same hearing, Commission on Audit (COA) Chair Grace Pulido-Tan said the coordination in government relief operations in the aftermath of the storm was “regrettable.”
“There was no gatekeeper,” Tan said, quoting one of the COA’s major findings. “There was no one—we didn’t see that—calling the shots, doing some kind of coherent coordination.”
She cited an instance in which no official could say which plane transported which goods to which areas, but otherwise this was “understandable.”
“It was that crazy. I think it was regrettable. When I think again, it’s understandable and forgivable,” Tan said.
The COA’s other finding was that there was a long list of donations reflected in the FAiTH portal, but not all ended up with the government, Tan said.
On Wednesday, Joms Salvador, secretary general of Gabriela, said typhoon survivors had received “very negligible” aid in the last four months and the actual distribution of donated goods did not meet even the minimum standards set by the DSWD.
Speaking at a news forum in San Juan City, Salvador said the DSWD received P67 million from local organizations and $15 million from international groups. She said those figures came from the department itself.
If DSWD standards were followed, Salvador said, the agency should be distributing “20 to 25 [kilos] of rice per family every other week.”
But the people living in the areas ravaged by the typhoon received only 20 kilos of rice, on the average, in the four months since the disaster, she said.
Salvador said there were families who received only 2 kilos of rice, two tins of sardines or corned beef, and four packs of noodles in November and nothing else since.
“Where is the money? That’s their question,” Salvador said, referring to the survivors.—With a report from Kristine Felisse Mangunay
Originally posted: 7:55 pm | Monday, March 17th, 2014
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