PH lists ‘zero’ Haiyan aid from 9 donor-countries

Paterno Esmaquel II
The FAITH hub can track foreign aid 'coursed through government agencies' only but some donor-countries have 'informed' government the site is not updated

TO THE RESCUE. A Canadian medic checks on a child in an evacuation center outside of Roxas City, Capiz after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). File photo from the Canadian embassy in Manila

MANILA, Philippines – Four months after donations first poured in for Yolanda (Haiyan) survivors, diplomats raised a concern about the Philippines’ official aid tracker, which lists “zero” donations from at least 9 donor-countries.

One of the diplomats said the data on the tracker, a website called the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAITH), “does not seem to reflect” their actual pledges.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda disclosed this on Thursday, March 20, as he said the Philippine government will update FAITH by April 25.

“We would recognize the limitations that we have,” Lacierda said in a media briefing at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) office in Pasay City.

This transparency tool lacks a basic feature, which casts doubt on the accuracy of data.

'ZERO' FOREIGN AID? On its home page, the Philippines' Haiyan aid tracker says India pledged zero in foreign aid. This is not entirely accurate. Screen grab from www.gov.ph/faith/full-report

In the website’s first version, Lacierda explained, the government does “not have the capability to identify pledges of assistance” that go through groups such as the Red Cross.

The hub can only track foreign aid “coursed through government agencies,” according to FAITH’s official website. (READ: Foreign aid: Process from donor to beneficiaries)

In FAITH’s second version, Lacierda said, the government is asking the diplomatic corps to identify, “apart from their donations to government, their donations as well to their own network of organizations.” 

He said the updated FAITH website will allow embassies “to access or input the data” on pledges. The embassies can do this through usernames provided by the DFA.

“We want to make sure that… their donations are fairly reported,” Lacierda told reporters after meeting with diplomats at the DFA on Thursday.

‘Zero’ donations

He announced this after FAITH originally resulted in an incomplete listing.

FAITH, in its first version, listed the following countries as having pledged no donation at all, in terms of pesos: 

  • Bahrain
  • Hungary
  • India
  • Israel
  • Qatar
  • South Africa
  • Sri Lanka
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine

For all the countries, FAITH listed non-cash donations but without monetary values.

An example is the non-cash donation by India – 15 tons of relief goods such as blankets, medicines, water, and food. Another example is Israel’s deployment of aid workers for Yolanda survivors.

MORE DETAILS HERE. India is shown to have given non-cash donations but there is no attached monetary value. Screen grab from www.gov.ph/faith/india

FAITH also listed zero pledges, in terms of pesos, from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, UNICEF, and the World Food Programme (WFP). These groups have helped the Philippines since the first days after Yolanda.

NOT JUST COUNTRIES. The Philippines' foreign aid tracker shows that groups such as the World Food Programme also pledged 'zero' in foreign aid. Screen grab from www.gov.ph/faith/full-report

FAITH explained on its website: “FAITH can only record assistance as declared or pledged by the donor government. It is worth noting that not all foreign donors ascribe costs to their assistance, especially when the aid is in non-cash form.”

Transparency, diplomacy crucial

When asked if donors felt bad about these issues, Lacierda said, “Hindi naman nagtampo (It’s not that they had ill feelings).”

Lacierda said the donors, however, “informed” the government that FAITH is not “updated.”

“That’s the reason why we’re asking them, ‘please let us know how you would value it,’ because it’s unfair for them to see on the website, this country, and then it’s zero,” he said.

These concerns came as the Philippines started convincing other countries to fulfill their Yolanda pledges. (Watch more in the video below)

Transparency plays a role in ensuring fulfilled pledges. Diplomacy, too, is key.

Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, Indonesia’s rehabilitation czar after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, even “went out of his way to meet donors, sometimes in their home countries.” He did this “to ensure that their efforts are acknowledged and praised,” according to the report by his team. (READ: Indonesian rehab czar: Give Lacson more powers)

Indonesia ended up having 93% of pledges fulfilled. So far, the Philippines has received only a fifth of the money that the world had promised. – Rappler.com

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

author

Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.