Visayan Forum and NGO ‘corruption’
The case involving Visayan Forum shows the need for NGOs to be transparent, Filipinos say

MANILA, Philippines – The fraud case involving a top Filipino non-government organization (NGO) should serve as a wake-up call for other NGOs, Filipino netizens said after the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) sued the top anti-trafficking group Visayan Forum.

Visayan Forum is accused of producing fake receipts and documents to justify some P200-M in spending. The NGO has asserted its conscience is clear.

Its case, however, has reminded netizens of the need for NGOs to be transparent.

“Corruption does not only pervade [the] government or the private sector. Hard to accept and unbelievable as it may seem, even high-profile NGOs can be corrupt,” said a Rappler reader, who goes by the username mulct, in the news site’s comments section.

Another reader, Scorpio_1969, said the case highlights “the unscrupulous practices of some NGOs.” “If we demand transparency and accountability from government, the same should be applied to NGOs especially if they are using government funds,” the reader said.

“I admire the intentions of the organization,” noted Rappler reader Batomi Lodeston. “But as they all say, intentions [are] different from transparency.”

Reader Lala Jimenez, for her part, called for transparency as well as a checks and balance mechanism for NGOs.

Meanwhile, in a radio interview on Saturday, September 15, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Palace would rather not comment on Visayan Forum’s case to allow it to proceed in the “proper legal forum.”

Baka sabihin pong meron tayong kinikilingan at an early stage,” Valte explained. (We might be accused of taking sides at an early stage.)

The Palace, however, expressed hope that the case against Visayan Forum would not affect international aid.

Sana naman po ‘yung mga ganyang alegasyon ay hindi makaapekto doon sa pagbibigay ng tulong… ng mga ibang institusyon o grupo kapag meron pong nangyayaring kalamidad,” Valte said. (We hope that this allegation wouldn’t affect potential donations… from other institutions or groups in times of calamity.)

Visayan Forum, a long-time partner of USAID, has also worked with several other international organizations in fighting human trafficking in the Philippines. The NGO has helped the Philippines improve in its crusade against the illegal trade that victimizes 2.4-M people annually. –