The Philippine government has launched the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAiTH), an online portal of information on calamity aid and assistance received by the country from nations and multilateral organizations.
Speaking to reporters, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said that
the portal, which can be accessed at www.gov.ph/faith, shows comprehensive information on humanitarian aid.
“The benefit here principally, of course, is it will promote greater transparency and accountability in the receipt as well as in the use of foreign aid,” he said.
“But also, it will also minimize duplication or imbalance in the deployment of aid, as experienced recently by aid countries operating,” he added
Through FAiTH, Abad explained that anyone, whether you’re a citizen of a donor country, a member of an international organization, or even if you’re an ordinary Filipino, can check the website and see for yourself the assistance so far received.
Like today, he noted that foreign donations for the victims of Yolanda reached P11.7 billion.
“Our goal ultimately is to institutionalize this mechanism that we can use to ensure transparency and integrity or foreign aid that we receive from hereon,” he said
“We expect that the magnitude of aid, both cash and in kind, will be huge as already being announced by different aid agencies in the media. And President Aquino has deemed it important to set up this site, so that our people will know the details of the foreign assistance that we are and will be receiving, and also be able to track how the assistance is used, especially if it is coursed through government agencies,” he added
According to Abad, all funds are coursed through implementing agencies such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Office of Civil Defense of the Department of National Defense (DND).
However, he said that the problems seems to lie on how to track the foreign aid coursed through different international organizations.
“With respect to the disbursement or use of the aid, if it’s coursed through government, like the agencies I mentioned, it will not be difficult for us to track. But if it is coursed outside of government, then that will pose us a challenge. But we will nonetheless ask those agencies, in the interest of accountability, to report to us their use of the aid,” he added
In the case of international non-governmental organizations, Abad said that they will ask them to collaborate with FAiTH, especially in reporting to the utilization of the aid that they extended, not through the government, but through their NGO partners or through local government units.
The FAiTH monitoring team, he said, will represented by Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Budget and Management, Department of Finance, Commission on Audit , DSWD, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, the Presidential Management Staff, and the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office under the Office of the President.
The DFA is the main resource for information on foreign aid, the agency will be the primary data source for FAiTH, Abad added.
Meanwhile, President Benigno Aquino 3rd urged the international and local groups to use FAiTH “to maximize the transparency and efficiency of our collective efforts.”
He noted that this is “only one aspect of our government’s response to Typhoon Yolanda.”
“While helping our people recover from the tragedy and rebuilding destroyed communities and infrastructure are our foremost priorities, we also know that it is important to reinforce the relationship we have with our people and with the international community,” Aquino said.
“We will do this by ensuring that the aid and assistance pledged for Filipinos will be used only to benefit Filipinos. Ultimately, FAiTH is more than a hub of information: it is an expression of appreciation for the kindness of those who stand in solidarity with our countrymen, and it is a continuation of our promise to the Filipino people: we are here only to serve you,” he added. CATHERINE S. VALENTE