Friday, June 14, 2024

Gov?t unveils ?online transparency hub? for foreign aid

Following the outpouring of international aid for the Philippines in the wake of Super Typhoon Yolanda, the Aquino administration on Sunday, Nov. 17, announced the launch of the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAiTH), a Web-based initiative that will allow the public to monitor the status of foreign assistance to the country.

FAiTH is the first of its kind in the Philippine government, which previously did not have a system for tracking the use of disaster-relief funds donated by other countries and aid organizations.

?There?s an urgent call now for us to monitor the movement of foreign aid funds for Yolanda so they will go exactly where they?re supposed to: to the survivors of the typhoon for whom recovery will be a long and arduous process, and to the communities that need to be rehabilitated as quickly and efficiently as possible,? Department of Budget and Management undersecretary and chief information officer Richard Moya said.

?FAiTH is the Aquino administration?s pioneering response to this growing need for transparency and accountability in the management of humanitarian donations,? Moya said.

According to Moya, FAiTH will be an online portal of information on calamity aid and assistance ? both in cash and in kind ? received by the Philippines from other countries, multilateral organizations, and also those sent through Philippine embassies abroad.

The portal will show comprehensive information on humanitarian aid donated to the Philippine government. If the donations are coursed through government agencies ? specifically the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Office of Civil Defense of the Department of National Defense (DND) ? the portal will likewise show users how the funds were spent.

According to Moya, the FAiTH monitoring team will represented by the Department of Foreign Affairs, DBM, Department of Finance (DOF), Commission on Audit (COA), DSWD, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the Presidential Management Staff (PMS), and the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) under the Office of the President.

Moya added that because the DFA is the main resource for information on foreign aid, the agency will be the primary data source for FAiTH.

?Counter to what most people think, foreign aid isn?t given to the Philippine government in hard cash. Instead, these arrive in the form of pledges, which are released to aid groups or their corresponding organizations in the Philippines, such as USAID and Red Cross. In cases like this, FAiTH doesn?t monitor these funds; instead, it tracks foreign aid that is coursed through Philippine government agencies,? Moya said.

Meanwhile, DBM secretary Florencio ?Butch? Abad said that administration efforts to bolster foreign aid transparency should go hand-in-hand with civil society and donor initiatives to improve accountability in the management of disaster funding, in line with the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI).

?While the Philippines is certainly no stranger to calamity, Super Typhoon Yolanda exceeded expectations around the world in the most unfortunate way possible. The Aquino administration and the Filipino people are very grateful for the generosity of the international community in response to the devastation left by Yolanda, as well as for the continuing selflessness of all our relief and rescue workers, including those from government, citizens? groups, and various aid organizations,? he added.

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