DESPITE its silence, the Catholic Church on Monday said it is keeping its eye on alleged misuse of public funds and foreign donations for Typhoon Yolanda victims and urged the Duterte administration to investigate the matter.
Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the Committee on Public Affairs of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), explained that the Church is just being cautious to avoid being misunderstood, opting instead to be a vigilant observer.
A report by the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAITH) showed that the Aquino administration received a total of P2.4 billion in cash and non-cash, while the non-government and multilateral organizations received P14.8 billion.
Fr. Edwin Gariguez, Caritas Philippines executive secretary, earlier quoted the September 2014 report by the Commission on Audit (COA) that said that “there is no single agency that tracks all donations from foreign funding.”
Gariguez called on the Duterte administration to ensure full accounting and auditing of the funds and donations intended for Typhoon Yolanda victims.
“Now is a very opportune time to bring about change,” he said, adding that the new administration had vowed meaningful policy change for the poor and most vulnerable.
Gariguez cited the Aquino administration’s “slow” recovery program in 2014 when only 2,100 houses were built for typhoon-affected communities in contrast to the 3,117 houses built by Caritas during the same period.
He said the Church’s efforts were meant to complement the emergency response of the government, which supposedly is the major responder.
“Regrettably, the government response was deemed very slow and obviously inadequate. There is really nothing ‘heroic’ in the way the recovery program was carried out,” Gariguez noted.
Latest National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) data showed that only 19,330 shelters were completed by the Aquino administration as of March this year, which Gariguez said is far below the overall target of 205,128 units.
A super typhoon that hit mainly Leyte province, particularly its capital Tacloban City in November 2013, Yolanda left more than 6,000 dead and thousands missing, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
It destroyed more than P571 billion in property, NEDA said.