DFA: List of foreign aid for Yolanda victims upgraded

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The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will improve its list of foreign aid pledges for Super Typhoon Yolanda victims and will identify cash or non-cash donations as it upgrades the website where it is posted.

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Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda on Thursday met with the diplomatic corps at the DFA to discuss details in upgrading the version of Foreign Aid Transparency Hub  (Faith) website that consists of foreign pledges posted online. DFA Assistant Secretary Jesus Domingo said the diplomats gave positive feedback for the improvement of the website.

“Foreign government repre–sentatives and the international community will be able to see the published list of all donations and pledges to Typhoon Yolanda victims. They may also see where each donation is channeled to,” Lacierda said. It is the government’s call for transparent accountability, he added.

The latest version of the website will collect information on the amounts of aid the government received from other nations. Data collected will then be tracked from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Health (DOH), and the Office of Civil Defense, Lacierda said.

The DFA will consult the DOH about the possibility of computing the monetary value of non-cash donations like medical assistance for a more transparent reflection of the aid.

“It is unfair to foreign governments if their aid will be evaluated as non-cash because they will not see the amount reflected on the website,” Lacierda said.

At present time, the Faith website states that the government has received almost P643 million in cash, while P25.8 billion in foreign aid were pledged.

“We have not received the bulk of the money. We do not know if pledges of assistance are converted to non-cash. Some donations were sent directly to the local government units so we need to properly identify each foreign aid,” Lacierda said.

The DFA will let foreign government representatives input records of their pledges or donations to the Faith website. They will be given security codes to access the website on April 7. Printed forms of foreign aid pledges input to the website will be provided to the DFA together with the attachment of the note verbale.

“Note verbales and official press releases from foreign governments are the best way to confirm foreign aid on the website. We are asking foreign governments to send us a note verbale to inform us about their donations so that we can officially acknowledge their aid,” Lacierda said.

Meanwhile, pledges and donations are still coming as Bangladesh government pledged $1 billion with non-cash assistance to be delivered as soon as possible.

“People, countries show compassion to our country. Who are we to refuse?” Lacierda said.

The DFA is finishing all aid evaluations from foreign governments.

Foreign private organizations will be evaluated as soon as possible. The Commission on Audit will observe and help itemize the foreign aid on the Faith website.

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