These days the good name of non-government organizations (NGOs), church charities and people’s organizations in the Philippines have been dragged into the mud and disrepute by the corrupt acts of politicians who used fake NGOs and charities and even government agencies to launder stolen public funds entrusted to them for poverty alleviation and development projects.
The generalization of the media in referring to NGOs as being the channel of stolen government funds may give the public a wrong impression as if many of the thousands of charities and civil society organizations were involved in the scam when only a small number of fake NGOs and charities were set up specifically to launder the public money into the pockets of the corrupt politicians.
We have to take a stand for the good, upright charities, and non-government organizations of civil society and their human rights defenders, social workers, priests and pastors and church workers who have given themselves, risking their lives for the poor and the exploited throughout the Philippines and elsewhere and have not been involved with dirty money offered by politicians.
The media must be sure to use the correct vocabulary and name the fake, false and corrupt shell organizations as “fronts for corruption and skullduggery” or similar terms to distinguish them from the honest, dedicated, good organizations helping the poor. Media must take care not to carelessly and inadvertently use the term NGO indiscriminately lest they wrongfully brand every charitable organization as part of a criminal conspiracy.
It has been revealed that there are many corrupt politicians who got lump sums of public funds for development projects and allegedly set up fake agencies, charities and non-government organizations through their business cronies. They even used many municipal governments to launder the public money released to them for development and poverty alleviation and hunger relief projects.
The crony opened a bank account in the name of the fake organizations, deposited the funds, and then withdrew a big percentage of the money for themselves and gave the bulk of it back to the politician. The most hurtful aspect that has angered millions of Filipinos who marched by their thousands last Monday in protest, is that the crooks are multi-millionaires already. Their overwhelming greed is like an addiction and it has caused great hunger and poverty. The “March of Millions” in the Luneta Park that began last Monday was to protest and to stop the “March of Millions of Pesos” into the bank accounts of the politicians and their cronies and demand the lump sums hand-out to the members of Congress be abolished.
This is the very reason that the Preda Foundation Inc. that I began 38 years ago never took donations from politicians or from big businesses in its long history serving exploited, impoverished and abused children, indigenous and poor people. Instead, we challenged and demanded accountability from them and were met with hostility, threats, and even closure of our children’s centers and deportation.
Instead, this charity is semi-self reliant and has partners that conduct strict monitoring and audits every year, the most recent of which is an “unqualified audit report” wherein everything is accounted for properly. Well managed charities and NGOs in the developing countries will have strict accountability audits and scrutiny by their supporters and partners. They need to have positive and successful “outputs” and narrative reports to justify the funding. Here is one child’s positive victory of the many successful outcomes among the hundreds of children helped by the Preda charity in past years and other genuine charities will have similar positive results. (www.preda.org)
In the case of Diane who was 14 years old when her father, himself a policeman, very likely influenced by the impunity enjoyed by sex tourists began to use her, his own daughter, as his sex slave and subjected her to repeated acts of rape for almost two years.
The child ran to relatives but they were unwilling to support her and help her escape from the father. This is a cultural weakness that allows so much child sexual abuse to continue. It’s a culture of fear, shame, and cover up for fear of the abuser.
Diane wanted the abuse to stop and to find justice and in desperation she turned to her teachers and government social workers in Valenzuela, North of Manila and then they called in the Preda Children’s home for legal assistance, shelter and recovery for Diane. If not for them working together with the Preda Foundation, this horrific abuse would have continued that could have driven the child to suicide. It’s just one case of many.
Despite the danger from an aggressive and violent abuser, the Preda Foundation social workers helped her escape to freedom in the Preda children’s home in Olongapo City. There she overcame the trauma, shock and depression and she found the courage to file a legal case against her father despite the opposition of her mother and relatives. Judge Nancy Rivas-Palmones of the Valenzuela family Court found him guilty beyond reasonable doubt and sentenced him to life imprisonment.
Good things do happen and the many thousands of good NGOs and charitable institutions are saving hundreds of thousands of children from abuse and hunger where the politicians and government agencies despicably fail despite helping to launder stole public money. Let’s keep the truth out front and support the good, honest charities out there, they are not perfect but most are not corrupt. They have dedicated church workers risking themselves to save the children and victims of human rights violations.