Aquino owes the world a Haiyan Aid report

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WHEN President Benigno Aquino 3rd visits Europe and the United States this September (Sept.13-24), it would be wise for him to bring along a competent, credible and coherent report on international assistance and aid extended to the Philippines and Haiyan (Yolanda) victims by foreign governments and international organizations and charities, and of course a report as well on the progress of recovery and reconstrruction in the affected regions and communities. He can present these along with our people’s thanks to the foreign heads of state and heads of organizations who will host or receive him.

Ten months after Haiyan’s landfall in East Visayas (“11/8” in my nomenclature to underscore the date), and with just two months to go before we mark the first anniversary of the perfect storm, a report to donors is clearly overdue and fitting.

Assistance to match Haiyan’s scale
Just as Haiyan and its trail of devastation had no precedents in history, so were the compassion and kindness that poured from the family of nations and large segments of all humanity unprecedented in scope and scale.

Europe and the United States were two of the biggest donors of assistance, in cash and kind, at the height of the calamity and in its aftermath.


America, ever reliable in times of war and peace, took a leading role in the rescue, relief, recovery and reconstruction effort, fielding no less than a thousand troops at one point during the crisis.

Aquino’s first stops in his journey—Spain, France, Germany, and Belgium (seat of the European Union)—are among our closest allies and partners, with whom we maintain ties of great depth and meaning.

Aquino’s visit is designed to drum up new investments in what is now acknowledged as our rapidly growing and more competitive economy. There will be keen interest in what he can report on his program in the closing chapter of his presidency.

Audit of international assistance
With respect to Haiyan, it clearly won’t be enough for Aquino to simply recite numbers or statistics. Donors want to know whether their acts of compassion made a difference in the lives of victims and their communities. And how in tandem with our government, they contributed to the emergence of new life and new hope in the areas laid waste by Haiyan.

We are a people who do not forget acts of kindness towards us, and who strive, so far as we are able, to repay debts of gratitude.

This audit of international assistance would be easy if our government has been running a continuous and updated record of such assistance with respect to Haiyan. Sadly, there is reason to worry that those in charge have not kept such a record competently and scrupulously.

Foreign Aid Transparency Hub
To the Aquino government’s credit, it has put up the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAITH), an online information portal that records and tabulates all the foreign aid pledged and received by the government and the victims of Yolanda.

The web portal enables donors to gain a broad perspective on the total aid effort, and to track their respective donations and to check whether they are accurately recorded.

I waded through FAITH to get a feel and some information on the scale and provenance of Haiyan assistance, but I quickly got lost in the maze of numbers loaded on the site, and the lack of explanatory text to guide the reader.

Unlike UN reports, with which I am fairly familiar, FAITH appears to be still a work in progress.

President Aquino will need more than faith to come up with a competent, credible and coherent report on Haiyan assistance.

There are now official reports questioning the handling of Haiyan assistance and the reliability of official records.

Senate committee report: No one knows
In an official committee report, the Senate Finance committee under chairman Chiz Escudero, following a series of hearings and technical working group (TWG) meetings, came up with the finding that “there is no single agency in the government that has possession and knowledge of the total amount of local and foreign donations for the victims of super typhoon Yolanda.”

The lapse is so glaring that the committee has recommended that the Senate direct the Commission on Audit (CoA) to conduct a special audit on the donations received by the government, which are estimated to be in the billions of pesos or even dollars.

Escudero’s committee is also considering the crafting of a bill that would institute a mechanism for the receipt, accounting and monitoring of foreign and local donations to the government for various calamities that hit the country.

Escudero says: “The findings indicate the need to institutionalize, preferably through legislation, a mechanism for the monitoring and accounting of all foreign and local donations for natural and man-made calamities.”
    
Aquino’s pledge of transparency and efficiency
At the launching of FAITH on November 18, 2013, just ten days after Haiyan battered the Visayas, President Aquino extolled the work of the portal as follows:

“Not only will FAITH contain detailed information on the help that has been given to us from our friends and partners abroad; it will also track how these donations are used, if assistance is to be coursed through government agencies. And I take this opportunity to invite—and to encourage—international and local nongovernment organizations and groups to use FAITH, and stand with us in this effort to maximize the transparency and efficiency of our collective efforts.”

Four months later, in April 2014, the government announced a major update and redesign of FAITH, in order to provide clearer, more detailed and accurate information on how much foreign aid has been given by foreign governments and where these were channeled.

With version two of the website, members of the diplomatic corps were given access to the site so they can input the amount of donations they have given and whether it was given directly to local government units, government agencies, or to non-government organizations.

Representatives of the various foreign governments were also asked to put a value on their non-cash donations, such as medical assistance, to ensure that all foreign aid are accurately reflected.

The new site also lists down the amounts the government has received and coursed through the different agencies such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Health (DOH), Office of Civil Defense (OCD), and especially aid given directly to Local Government Units (LGUs).

Even so, problems remain. I seriously wonder whether the people behind FAITH can handle the task of providing the “competent, credible and coherent report on Haiyan assistance” that would be useful for President Aquino’s visit to Europe and the United States.

No one knows how long the COA audit will take. And nobody believes the auditing office can finish a report by the time of the first anniversary of Haiyan on November 8.

The only defense I can think of for this incompetence in handling foreign assistance is to declare that it is better to be swamped by an avalanche of donations than to receive none at all.

yenmakabenta@yahoo.com

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27 Comments

  1. They could not even account the number of casualties. Apparently it has to be below 10,000 to avoid U.N. control of the assistance, donation and rehabilitation.

    From the very beginning they planned that they will be in control of the finances. Could they be truthful in reporting what has been achieved and the amount involved?

  2. Only few people here knows what’s the real story of these issue. One reason is that they’re not the victim and pretending to be knowledgeable as if they’re from the devastated areas. To tell you the truth the government would not give assistance to the places where private NGOs give assistance. To make the story short, the immediate recovery of the places was not because of the effort of the government but because of the private NGOs.

  3. Continuation… human beings who are God’s children like you and me, created to his image and likeness and hence, created for happiness. When the late Mayor Pablo Cuneta was alive, after having visited the old Pasay City Jail then in Burgos Street, there were 100 inmates who used to sleep on their backs on the cement floor of the jail. Very respectfully, I brought the situation to his attention, saying: “They deserve to pay for their crime, Mayor, it is true, but their inhuman condition will never give way to any desire to reform their lives. They will only nourish bitterness, resentment, etc. Could you at least provide them mats to sleep on as behooves human beings?” He donated 100 mats for all the inmates. We all need to make restitution one way or another, but especially those charged with stewardship like being head of States, of Local Governments, municipalities, Barangays and so forth. We all are to give an accounting on how we took good care of our environment; how families lived up to their vocation to be faithful to their married vows; how parents reared their offspring up to be loving, patriotic citizens, in short, how we obeyed and lived the commandment to “love God above all things and our neighbors, as ourselves.” If Pnoy could only learn to accept mistakes, neglect, in his duty as President, perhaps our International donors would look at him, at us as a people. In International understanding and cooperation, pride, arrogance and lack of integrity, are true “abortifacients” in the maintenance of the life of lasting friendship. On the other hand, humility and modesty call the blessings of heaven here and hereafter. No one can boast of being self-sufficient in this world – not even PNoy. Mr. President, please, there is no harm in soliciting assistance from outside your narrow and self-serving associates. There are many good and patriotic Filipinos just waiting for you to ask. They are willing to put their talents and time for the common good.

  4. Yen, I have carefully read and reflected on the various comments that your “Aquino owes the world a Haiyan Aid report” have elicited. I, personally, doubt very much if the President would be able to produce a truthful report on the matter, knowing fully well how the government under his watch fared during all the natural calamities that visited our country. When you are a responsible and accountable leader, you don’t limit your commitment to serve your people by just passing the responsibility to your subordinates. I have been in the military ministry for 56 years now, and still am at present, and I know that Commanders do not simply give orders to their subordinates and then move on to some other business. The truly good, responsible and trustworthy officer, at the appointed moment, used to go to see for himself if the order given was properly carried out by checking the log book where everything is recorded. PNoy is th Commander-in-chief, does he do this? What about the ever-worsening poverty of our people? The conditions of our prisons and detention cells. Some might ask: “Does she know what she is saying”? Yes, I do, Yen. I am actively involved in the Southern Police District Police Moral Recovery Formation Program. I regularly visit the Pasay City Police Station where some 25-40 and even up to 50 inmates are kept in a 5×5 sq.m. detention cell. Visit, yes, but also bring food once a month (courtesy of City Mayor and some members of his council who, more than the ordinary citizens of Pasay, have the duty to be “Good Samaritans” by being concerned, compassionate, merciful and loving, especially towards the most abject of their constituents. How I wish the NoWhere Man from Malacanang would go visit our prisons and, instead of using the peoples’ money to bribe senatongs and tongressmen to help him achieve his vengeful schemes against those who oppose, or who he perceives his political enemies, would use those huge amounts to construct prisons fit for…

  5. It is now the time to know who are the kickers, consultants of the president, if they are the same persons that authored the DAP, PDAF & BUB, we are sure that they have already all the data with regards to the dispositions of Yolanda aid from the international community. It is always a shame for our country having a president that pretends to know everything but the truth he is the only leader in the world who pretend to know but he really don’t know. one blunder as an example in his visit to Japan after knowing that their military forces are limited to self-defense in accordance with their law, he suggested directly to the Prime Minister of Japan to amend their constitution so they can send the force for international defense.

  6. In as much the government is not giving us a transparent accounting of all these donations we might as well channel our concern to the Donor Countries, International Press and Other International Organizations to formally request the Philippine Government for such report. I believe this will put more pressure on the Government and also put awareness among the donors where their donations go. Eventhough this will make the Philippines look bad among the international community if this is the best way so be it.

  7. Juan de la Cruz on

    It would not be surprising if a major part of these foreign aids were declared “savings” by Abad upon order from Pnoy and were incorporated in Pnoy’s DAP & used to accelerate corruption in the Philippines. COA has zero credibility so there is really no point in having them do an audit. It is no accident that there are no complete records of the Foreign donations, this is just how the current administration operates.

  8. It is expected that there is no accounting of all the donations coming in. an incompetent leader have no idea about accountability. Even the Millinium Fund he got from the USwhich was more than 400 million dollars was never been heard of since then. That money was intended to help the poor which aimed to reduced by 2016. The result was that povety increased by the millions. Right after the typhoon Yolanda, aquino got an emergency loan from WB and ADB of more than a billion dollars. These huge amount of debt will be paid by the people and not aquino who boasted of improved economy. In reality our government today is bankrupt and it survived only from credit to finance its daily survival.

  9. veronica castro on

    do not worry. PNOY i.s one President and one gov’t official who never lined his pockets with the people’s money.

    Can you also ask the previous presidents to do what you are asking PNOY to do..

    Maraming galit kay PNOY kasi tinutoto niya ang battlecry “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” He stepped on so many big toes, kaya he created so many enemies. who are now demanded to return to the old ways. “kung maraming corrupt, maraming mahirap.”

    • veronica, bulag, binggi ka ba at di ka nagbabasa? Umpisa kay Alcala, mula nuon puro kurapsyon lang ginawa, nandyan pa rin, Si Sec
      Abaya aka abwaya, pabaya, nag hire ng maintenance na kumpare
      niya sa MRT o sabihin na natin sa kotse na lang niya, nasa tuwing
      ilalabas niya sa garahe di makatakbo sira lagi, babayaran mo
      ba yung tiga gawa mo? Kung may budget ka naka laan na
      pang matrikula at gastos kung may sakit mga bata, bigla
      hinolDAP ng asawa at nagkataong nagkasakit o may emergency
      kayo at wala kayong mahugot na pera, ano gagawin mo sa
      asawa mo. Ganyan yun sa MRT, taong 2012 may pondo
      pang repair, hinolDAP ni Abad ang Pondo at si idol mo naman
      pinangsuhol lang sa mga ka Liberal niyang tongresmen at mga
      Senatong. Kakampi naman niya ang mga yan at naniniwala daw
      naw guilty si Corona, bakit pa kailangang suhulan ng BILYONES
      NA DAP. Hayan ang after effect 500 thousand mahihirap na
      mga empleyadong mananakay ang naghihirap sa pila araw
      araw, ok lang ba sayo ang kapalpakang yan.
      Yung mga donation sa Yolanda na galing pa sa ibang bansa
      hangga ngayon hindi maiaccount, nag noynoying na naman,
      nakakahiya sa mga donor. ok lang ba sayo?

    • How about the 450+ million paid to hacienda Luisita and the 2.1 billion for the road that will cross that hacienda?

    • Ms. Veronica you dont know what are you saying or you are
      just to dumb or idiot. We waraynons were the victims kaya kami ang nakakaalam sa mga nagyayari not you or your government.

  10. Mr. penoy hinihingan ka na ng report kung saan napapunta ang
    mga bilyones na itinulong ng ibat ibang bansa at mga charitable
    organization at NGO. Saan nga ba,? hanggang sa mga huling taon
    ng termino mo talagagang noynoying lang ba ang alam mo at
    magsasabi ka lang ng I still trust them na walang korap kaya walang
    mahirap sa Tuwid na Daan ng mga pangarap.

    Idagdag mo pa, dapat ding ipaliwanag ng bata mong si Dingky Soliman
    saan niya inadress ang 5 bilyon pantawid na may kundition para sa
    mga mahihirap, saan nga ba?, paki usisa na rin sa post office saan
    bulsa napapunta, ala eh nasa Matuwid na Daan tayo.

    Paki-paliwanag mo na rin bakit mo hinayaang maholDAP ni Sec
    A bad ang 4.5.bilyong pondo ng DOTC/MRT na para sana pang
    pa rehab at repair ng train nuong 2012 at pambili rin kung pwede
    ng mga bagong bagon, Ang balita ay napasama sa mga ipinangregalo
    mo dahil sa tuwa sa mga tongresmen na ka partido mo na walang
    habas at pikit matang pumirma para ipa impeach si Corona at
    sa mga Senatong na nag guilty verdict, bakit naman kailangan
    mo pang regaluhan eh pagkayayaman na ng mga yan,
    Ngayon kalahating milyong mahihirap ang nagtityagang pumila
    ng kulang 2 oras sa ilalim ng init ng araw o ulan. Akala ko ba
    ang DAP ay para ipantulong sa mga mahihirap na mamayan
    at para umasenso ang ekonomiya ay bakit nagka ganuon?

  11. Tita Boluso-Rimando on

    I agree – better an avalanche of aid/donation than none at all. BUT that there is the problem with us. We open our arms and the miracle happens. And then we don’t manage the miracle. No one is on top of things to oversee, deploy, monitor, account for, etc. Back in early August, many newspapers headlined Lacson to have finally submitted THE masterplan for post-Haiyan rehabilitation. Hu-waaat?! After 9 months, we’re patting our back for having completed a plan!?!? Meanwhile, the lives of our kababayans out there have been put on hold – livelihood, small business, schooling…. And our top leaders repeat their mantra of blaming the past. What a bunch of emotional retards and incompetent brats @#$%&^

  12. We will find out from the international reports about President Aquino’s trip if the foreign press are still writing as if they are propagandists for PNOY the conman pf Daang Matuwid that is really Daang Baluktot.

  13. Without a credible audit of the where the foreign aid to Yolanda victims went, we cannot blame the donors and the Filipino people themselves from suspecting that the donations lined the pockets of Philippine government officials. The Philippine government should erase the suspicion by being transparent and explain how the donations were spent.

  14. Yes, the mischievous one, PNoy is obligated to report to the entire world and accounting and auditing report of how his government spent the aids, both monetary and material directly to the Yolanda victims. It seems the aid is lost in translation apparently on purpose or by diversion because the government of PNoy used the financial aid for other purposes. Let us remember, PNoy and Abad are very good at diverting funds from one purpose to another.

  15. Excellent recommendation. Progress in helping the folks in line with expenditures should be accounted for and justifiable. Mr. President “just do it” as the shoemaker Nike says.

  16. The monetary and material aid that came from foreign countries after the Haiyan in Tacloban, etc.,would, most likely, be significantly enough for the rehabilitation of the region even without the help of the Philippine government. In the communiity where I live, this much I know: (Donations in American dollars)

    1) Almost all churches of any denomination had their own fund-raising for the victims of the typhoon;
    2) Almost every establishment, big or small, especially those who have at least one Filipino employee, did their own fund-raising, or have a container in their counters where customers may donate for the typhoon victims;, in the case of bars charged their customers more than the price of a glass of wine or bottle of beer for Yolanda victims;;
    3) Filipino organizations (community, professional, etc. groups) had their own fund- raising for the same purpose;
    4) I went to watch a professional basketball game and there was a flash in the 4-sided screen above the court with a telephone number to call with one’s cellphone and a $10. dollar donation will be automatically deducted for the typhoon victims. Conservatively, there were 17,000 attendeees in that particular game.
    5) Lions’ Club, Jaycees, Toastmaster’s Club, etc. did their own fund-raising, too,

    Worldwide, the donations stated above may not even amount to a “drop in the bucket” but, how much was accounted for so far, overall. Who was in charge? I won’t be surprised if there will be a lot of finger pointing just like after the destruction.

  17. SALVACION CAHAYAG on

    Of course it is the responsibility of the government under Aquino to be transparent
    and come clean in regards to the donations that poured in at the height of typhoon
    Haiyan. Where did all these huge donations went.It maybe recalled what Amanpour
    told Aquino during that interview in which he told Aquino that that calamity will
    define Aquino’s presidency. It is now Aquino’s turn to report to the donors most
    especially these foreign donors who generously gave their support to the Filipino
    people at a time when we needed them most. Where did these donations in the billions went. Who were the recipients? Were these donations again corrupted bythis exceptionally corrupt Aquino administration.? These donations should be properly audited and reported. If not, its a shame. As CNN Amanpour said, this will define
    aquinos presidency. Next no country will respect the Philippines anymore.
    it will be a shame

  18. “A competent, credible and coherent report on international assistance and aid extended to the Philippines and Haiyan (Yolanda) victims by foreign governments and international organizations and charities, and of course a report as well on the progress of recovery and reconstrruction in the affected regions and communities” is not only most apropos but demanded of Aquino by the strict rules of international prudence, in his forthcoming visit to the US and the European countries.

    He must also be advised to take up some lessons in public speaking so as not to depend on his teleprompter and read his text 80 miles a minute. It is a pity that he does not speak English well nor any foreign language. The former Pres. Arroyo does us proud by her fluency in Spanish. This is what is needed in an incumbent president. He must be internationally presentable and must have a diplomatic bearing. He must not be the object of covert sneers and disdain because of his notoriety. I wonder if this incumbent will do us proud or bring us shame.

  19. What foreign or typhoon aids did you say? They gave them with no strings attached, so what is your problem, Mr. Makabenta? PNoy does not remember and does not acknowledge foreign aid. He is proud of OFW remittances, which means work harder OFW.

    I know, he will surely make the Philippines the Butt, Joke of the world. He shoukd not get out of the Philippines. Glad he did not visit USA and Canada.

  20. Yen Makabenta

    I think you don’t have to blames Pres. Aquino regarding this . Every time there is a problem you blamed him , blamed yourself. Did you do anything to solved this problem. You people on the press always blaming the administration. Better shot up

    • Tama nga naman don’t blames Pres. Aquino, blamed yourself and did you do anything to solved this problem? Better shot up. (na lecturan ka tuloy) … tsk tsk tsk