Gov't to improve foreign aid tracking site
MANILA, Philippines – The government said it will update its website that was put up to track foreign aid for Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), amid continuous public interest in relief efforts and demand for transparency.
On Monday, March 10, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told reporters that after a meeting with government officials last week, Malacañang decided to update the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub or the government's FAiTH website, an online tracker of humanitarian aid given by foreign countries and organizations.
"The original plan was just to track government donations. But right now, we will also track where the pledges of assistance with the multilateral organizations go just to show a clear picture," Lacierda said.
"The impression is that all the money, the P23 billion, goes to government. That's not true."
Lacierda explained that a bulk of the aid pledged by the international community has not gone to government, emphasizing a lot of those listed on the website "are pledges of assistance for now."
"We need to also know how many of the pledges have been converted to actual, for instance, donation," he said. "We also need to confirm with the foreign embassies how much of their pledges of assistance have been converted into cash or non-cash assistance already."
To get the latest numbers, Lacierda said the government plans to meet with foreign embassies to get updates on their foreign pledges of assistance, and ask government agencies to submit the breakdown of amounts that they have received so far from foreign governments or multilateral organizations.
About a week after Yolanda ravaged the Philippines, the government launched FAiTH on November 14, "an online portal of information on calamity aid and assistance – both in cash and in kind – that are received by the Philippines from other countries, multilateral organizations, and those sent through Philippine embassies abroad."
It is the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that acts as the main agency that coordinates foreign aid, and is the primary source of information for FAiTH. (READ: Foreign aid: Process from donor to beneficiaries)
At present, the FAiTH website says it has received P24.6 billion ($551.9 million) worth of pledges, P3 billion ($69.1 million) in the form of cash, and P21.5 billion ($482.8 million) in non-cash.
It also says the total cash received by the government amounts to P643.2 million ($13.3 million).
Last week, Rehabilitation Secretary Panfilo Lacson said the Philippines would appeal to the world to deliver on their promised aid to the Philippines, at least P3.11 billion ($69.11 million) in cash for survivors. Nearly 4 months after, he said other countries have delivered only a fifth of their pledges.
'It will take years'
The announcement of the Palace coincided with the release of UNICEF's progress report, Four Months After Typhoon Haiyan.
In the report's executive summary, UNICEF said "children's needs remain great, and it will take years for communities to fully recover, yet real and significant progress has been made in the aftermath of the Typhoon."
Lacierda said the government continues to address needs of the 5.9 million children affected by the storm.
He said the Department of Education continues to re-construct schools but gave assurances education is being provided, while the Department of Social Welfare and Development is caring for children orphaned by the typhoon, and continuing to provide relief efforts.
Lacierda admitted the government continues to learn from Yolanda.
"Admittedly, Yolanda has an intensity far greater than the others. What I can only say is that we are learning from typhoon Yolanda. That's the reason why we have taken a number of steps to ensure that a calamity this magnitude – we should be able to prepare," he said.
The world's strongest storm, which hit central Philippines on November 8, claimed more than 6,000 lives and displaced over 4.1 million people. – Rappler.com