News / Asia

Philippines Struggles to Account for Millions in Foreign Typhoon Aid

A typhoon survivor stands on rubbish in Tacloban, central Philippines, Dec. 8, 2013.
A typhoon survivor stands on rubbish in Tacloban, central Philippines, Dec. 8, 2013.
Simone Orendain
After super Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines last November, foreign governments and aid groups pledged some $600 million in cash and assistance for the relief and recovery effort. Now, the Philippine government says it can only account for some $14.3 million of the donations. The government is working to create an improved tracking system to find out where the money went.
 
Right now the “Foreign Aid Transparency Hub” website shows pledges to three Philippine government agencies, but there are holes in the data.
 
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda admits that the website does not reflect where exactly the money is going.  But he says the government will remedy that situation this month with an updated version that will provide more transparency.
 
“We are not going to only track donations to government, but also [what] those pledges and assistance have been converted to and to what channels- what we call channels- or organizations that they’re going to be furnished to," said Lacierda.
 
Foreign governments accounting 


For the new version, the Philippines will require foreign governments to submit detailed information of where their pledges have gone.  Authorities say this will help them account for much more of the donated funds.  As for tracking what the Philippine government has received directly, Lacierda says those agencies are still putting together reports of where the money was spent.
 
Cleo Calimbahin, the executive director of Transparency International-Philippines, commends the government for creating the website, but she says it is “not very informative.”  And even with additional information in the new version, the huge gap between pledges versus cash accepted might not necessarily close.
 
“A lot of private organizations and agencies channeled some of [that] aid directly to their counterparts… and that would be very difficult to track.  Also difficult to track would be aid that was given directly to local governments… because sometimes these local governments have strong relationships with other countries directly,” she said.
 
Ramon Casiple, who heads the Philippine Institute for Political and Electoral Reform,  says improved transparency about the government’s projects for aid and recovery would be better than an improved aid tracking website.

“The public can look into these plans, the way that they are implemented and actually give access to the victims themselves, if you want to verify the facts or the information.  The whole problem, so far in the rehabilitation, is that the victims are not part of the story,” he said.

Casiple says some of the bigger aid agencies worry about corruption and so they hesitate to donate directly to governments.   Also, down on the ground at the local government level, politics can influence whether survivors will get help or not. 

Relief operations in the Philippines, Nov. 21, 2013
 
  • Typhoon survivors board a Philippine Air Force transport plane in Tacloban, Nov. 21, 2013.
  • A Philippine man carries aid from a U.S. Navy Seahawk helicopter in Palo, Philippines, Nov. 20, 2013.
  • U.S. sailors and Marines load supplies onto a helicopter to be delivered in Eastern Sumar Province, Philippines, Nov. 20, 2013. (U.S. Navy)
  • U.S. military personnel carry supplies to be distributed in Eastern Sumar Province, Philippines, Nov. 20, 2013. (U.S. Navy)
  • U.S. sailors work with Philippine armed forces members to transport relief supplies in Ormoc City, Philippines, Nov. 18, 2013. (U.S. Navy)
  • A member of the U.S. Navy hugs a child during a visit to Philippine Army base Camp Downes in support of Operation Damayan, Nov. 18, 2013. (U.S. Navy)
  • A Seahawk helicopter transports international relief supplies in support of Operation Damayan, Ormoc City, Philippines, Nov. 17, 2013. (U.S. Navy)
  • U.S. sailors and Marines work with Philippine civilians to unload relief supplies in Guiuan, Philippines, Nov. 17, 2013. (U.S. Navy)
  • Villagers scramble for aid from a U.S. Navy helicopter in the coastal town of Tanawan, Philippines, Nov. 17. 2013.
  • A soldier carries a baby to board a U.S. military transport plane at the damaged Tacloban airport, Tacloban city, Philippines, Nov. 17, 2013.
  • A U.S. hospital corpsman assists Philippine nurses in treating a patient's head wound at the Immaculate Conception School refugee camp, Guiuan, Philippines, Nov. 17, 2013. (U.S. Navy)
  • Philippine citizens board an U.S. HC-130 Hercules to be airlifted to safety in support of Operation Damayan, Guiuan, Nov. 17, 2013. (U.S. Navy)
 
 
Agencies have own tracking systems

Casiple points to Oxfam International, which has so far collected $55 million toward typhoon aid, as a model for efficiency in helping the neediest survivors.  He says agencies like Oxfam work closely with their local counterparts on the ground.  

An Oxfam spokeswoman says all donations collected go toward Haiyan relief and rehabilitation.   The money is administered through a management system that follows projects at each step of the process.  
 
Another major humanitarian agency, the Tzu Chi Foundation, works directly with the survivors.  Philippine Country Chief Alfred Li says Tzu Chi has so far poured more than $27 million into areas that were hit hardest by Haiyan.  He says the money is tracked from start to finish and Tzu Chi personnel and volunteers are on the ground carrying out the work.
 
“Whatever we spend is handled by us.  We never give it to the government and then let the government do the distribution.  All our relief activities are always done by ourselves,” he said.
 
The funds have gone toward cash and livelihood relief and now building schools and other recovery work.  Li says Tzu Chi submits reports directly to the Departments of Social Welfare, Education and other related agencies.  

After five months of  recovery and reconstruction efforts in Tacloban and other hard-hit areas, there is still a great need for more assistance. Just this week, Australia pledged another $27 million for reconstruction in typhoon-hit areas, on top of the $36 million Canberra pledged in November.

Images from the Philippines, Nov. 21, 2013
 
  • Typhoon Haiyan survivors wait for their evacuation flights at the airport in Tacloban, Philippines, Nov. 21, 2013.
  • A typhoon survivor sits beside the body bag containing his child in Tacloban, central Philippines, Nov. 20, 2013.
  • A Philippine Air Force crew looks out from his helicopter as Typhoon Haiyan-ravaged city of Tacloban is seen in the background, during a flight to deliver relief goods, Nov. 19, 2013.
  • The brakelight of a delivery truck lights up a boy's face as survivors struggle to be the first in line during the distribution of relief goods in typhoon-hit Tacloban, Philippines, Nov. 18, 2013.
  • Firemen unload Typhoon Haiyan victims in body bags from a truck on the roadside until forensic experts can register and bury them in a mass grave outside of Tacloban, Philippines, Nov. 19, 2013.
  • A Typhoon Haiyan survivor carries a bag of his recovered belongings in the ruins of his rural neighborhood on the outskirts of Tacloban, Philippines, Nov. 18, 2013.
  • A man uses a shovel to clean up mud inside St. Joseph Parish church, which was badly damaged by Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, Philippines, Nov. 18, 2013.
  • Typhoon Haiyan survivors walk along a road in the destroyed port in the town of Guiuan, Philippines, Nov. 15, 2013.
  • A young boy, a survivor of Typhoon Haiyan covers his ears as military C-130 aircraft land at the airport in Tacloban, central Philippines, Nov. 15, 2013.
  • Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan shade themselves from the rising sun after spending the night on the tarmac in the airport in Tacloban, where they wait to be evacuated, Nov. 15, 2013.
  • Toppled coconut trees dot a mountain in an area devastated by typhoon Haiyan in Leyte province, central Philippines, Nov. 15, 2013.

You May Like

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: mark
May 01, 2014 6:01 PM
To make things simple and easy. They don't necessarily account for donations directly fiven to recipients or partner organizations of donors, they have their own trust system and they know where those went. These oeganizations will nit ask government where it went because they know first hand.What theit concern should be what they receive and where they spend it.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs