UNITED States Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg said Washington’s $142.5-million assistance to the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda has been properly accounted for despite allegations of wrongdoing by some government officials.
“The fact is that we believe every dollar of our money is accounted for and we are satisfied with the process that has gone on from our point of view,” Goldberg said during the 5th Kapihan sa Embahada media forum held on Monday at the US Embassy along Roxas Boulevard in Manila.
“And so we don’t believe that with our assistance, that [misuse of funds]has been an issue,” he added.
Goldberg’s statements came after calls for Soliman’s resignation mounted. Secretary Corazon Soliman of the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD) has been accused by some sectors of “double accounting” and claiming credit for the P779 million in foreign donations released by the World Food Program (WFP).
Party list Representatives Jonathan dela Cruz of Abakada and Terry Ridon of Kabataan have asked Soliman to reveal how much in government funds had been released for the typhoon victims.
A report by the Commission on Audit supposedly showed that the DSWD withheld funds that may have been intended for Yolanda victims.
But Gloria Steele, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) mission director for the Philippines, noted during the media forum that they have been “constantly monitoring the assistance that we have provided.”
She said the US will continue supporting rehabilitation efforts in Leyte and other affected areas despite issues that hound the use of foreign donations.
“We continue to be there until affected areas are able to stand up on their own,” Steele added.
Washington has committed $142.5 million for immediate, emergency assistance and current assistance for recovery.
Steele said her agency helped rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson in putting together a recovery and reconstruction plan that he turned over to President Benigno Aquino 3rd about a month ago.
Currently, the agency is helping build 10 clinics, 165 classrooms and 1,000 sari-sari (variety) stores for the typhoon survivors.
The US is also funding anti-human trafficking efforts “to make sure that in the process of dealing with the loss of jobs that women, children and boys do not get trafficked.”
Yolanda made six landfalls across six or seven regions on November 8, 2013.
It had the strongest storm surge “ever recorded in human history” that left 6,300 people dead and dislocated more than 1.4 million families.
Hardest hit was Tacloban City in Leyte province but Samar province was also devastated.