MANILA, Philippines – The public should apply the same standards of accountability to public and private sectors with respect to aid received for survivors of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).
Budget Undersecretary Richard Bon Moya stressed this point at the #BudgetWatch forum jointly organized by Rappler and the Open Budget Partnership. (Read: ‘People can help’ watch over funds – COA, DBM)
Coming at the heels of the Janet Napoles scandal, which triggered investigations into the misuse of pork barrel funds, Moya said most donors in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda coursed their pledges to non-governmental organizations instead of government agencies.
“Of the P15-billion pledges given to us, the government only receives about 1.5%. The rest of the 98.5% directly goes to institutions that are not government,” Moya explained. He added, “These are also OPM – other people’s money – so we should have the same level of standards.”
Only 3 agencies receive the government’s share of pledges – Department of Social Welfare and Development, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, and the Department of Health. Coursed through these agencies, funds are then subject to auditing by the Commission on Audit (COA).
The Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAiTH), an online portal of information on calamity aid and assistance, monitors the entry of humanitarian aid that goes through the Department of Foreign Affairs.
COA Chair Grace Pulido Tan said they are conducting an almost simultaneous audit of foreign humanitarian aid.
“Our people are spread. We are partnering with student organizations because we need a lot of people to be on the ground to help check and validate,” Tan said.
Not all aid go through the DFA, however, according to Tan. Quite a number of private entities have launched their own donation drives. It is unclear, however, how the monies going to these entities will be accounted for.
Both panelists emphasized the growing importance of technology and citizen participation in ensuring government accountability and transparency. Forum participants, most of whom represent groups involved in various aspects of budget monitoring, echoed the sentiment.
Jane Uymatiao of BlogWatch talked about #Aidmonitorph, an initiative aimed at monitoring the funds that go through NGOs and private foundations.
“A lot of foreign donors have said that they want to know where the aid is going so we’d like to work with the government on this,” Uymatiao added. – Rappler.com