Manila, Philippines – Several groups on Saturday urged the Commission on Audit (COA) to conduct a full-audit of all financial aid received by Aquino government from foreign donors to assist tens of thousands of victims of super typhoon Yolanda.
In a joint press statement, the fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and rural-based relief organizations Sagip Kanayunan and Tulong Anakpawis said COA should start monitoring and auditing funds intended for Yolanda victims.
“We are talking here of some Php 5.4 billion or roughly 126.8 million US dollars. We cannot entrust this to the Aquino government which also champions the legacy of pork barrel and bureaucratic corruption. We hope COA will do its assignment in the name of the victims of typhoon Yolanda and for the sake of national interest and public transparency,” said Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Aquino government had received assistance amounting to nearly 130 million US dollars from 43 international donors that came from the United States, Japan, European Union, Australia, China and Saudi Arabia to mention a few.
DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez argued that the amount “accounts only for those donations to which the donors assigned a monetary value, adding that that pledges of financial aid have to be processed in accordance with the rules and regulations of the donors before the funds reach the recipients.
Pamalakaya and allied groups Sagip Kanayunan and Tulong Anakpawis said COA along with independent body composed of church people, anti-corruption groups and service oriented organizations should handle the monitoring and audit of funds donated by foreign states and non-government organizations for victims of typhoon Yolly.
“It is a proposal that stemmed from a collective belief and sentiment that the administration of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III is not only incompetent and arrogant, but also equally or superbly corrupt and ravenous than previous administrations and that the international support for the victims would only go to the corrupt syndicate operating inside and outside of Malacanang if not properly handled and supervises.
This is a fact and not a bluff– that this administration has no political and moral authority to receive and handle international support for the victims of the recent catastrophe in Eastern Visayas and 34 more provinces,” the Pamalakaya leader said.
France added: ” The pork obsessed administration of President Aquino is dangerous. We cannot rely on this incumbent ruling gangland in Malacanang would ensure that these international aid for earthquake victims would go to relief and rehabilitation. Something must be done to stop this unbridled exploitation and wholesale raid of people’s resources.”
“The proposal of Pamalakaya regarding the formation of an independent body will solicit the support primarily of faith-based organizations, trusted non-government organizations and institutions and representatives of victims and people’s organizations. “The idea is to insulate foreign aid from the corrupt regime of Aquino and make sure these would go directly for the relief and rehabilitation of people, livelihood and communities. The COA can be tapped to monitor these foreignaid and make periodic reporting on the status of foreign aid,” Pamalakaya added.
Pamalakaya reminded foreign donors that the Philippine government has yet to account theforeign assistance it received for victims of typhoon Pablo last year.
The militant group said the Aquino administration received donations from Australia amounting to P 210 million, Canada (P 10 million), US P 140 million, Indonesia (P 43 million), 500 million New Zealand dollars from New Zealand, 30,000 US dollars from China and 50,000 Singaporean dollars from Singapore. “What happened to these foreign aid remains big question mark because no report and proper accounting were made. ” The foreign donors should learn its’ lesson well and must distrust this administration to the highest order,” the group added.
The group said also until now the Aquino government has yet to account for the P 22 million assistance it received from the government of Japan and another P 160 million from the European Union for the victims of typhoon Pablo. ###