Philippines aid, donations corruption

2013-11-21 16:38
US Marine Osprey aircraft arrive to deliver aid at Tacloban airport after Typhoon Haiyan hit the east coast of the Philippines. (Mark Rolston, AFP)

US Marine Osprey aircraft arrive to deliver aid at Tacloban airport after Typhoon Haiyan hit the east coast of the Philippines. (Mark Rolston, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories


SA rescue team offers typhoon relief

2013-11-21 11:38

Members of South African rescue team, Gift of the Givers, have been in the Philippines offering relief to those affected by typhoon Haiyan. Watch.WATCH

Manila - As millions of dollars pour in for more than four million left homeless by a typhoon in the central Philippines, authorities are grappling with a familiar problem - how to stop fraudulent claims and prevent greedy politicians taking advantage.

Typhoon Haiyan smashed through the country on 8 Nov, laying waste to just about everything in its path, and killing more than 4 000 people.

Nearly $298m in cash and relief goods have so far been pledged by countries and donor groups to an overwhelmed government that was criticised for its slow response in the first few days after disaster struck.

The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have committed a total of more than $1bn in grants and emergency loans to support reconstruction and relief efforts.

Add to that the millions of pesos raised by the private sector, with Filipinos working across the globe gathering friends for fund-raising activities, and you have a lucrative target for scammers and unscrupulous public officials in one of the most corrupt countries in East Asia.

The Philippines comes in at 105 out of 176 countries in Transparency International's corruption perceptions index, with the cleanest country, New Zealand, at number one.

"It is a big issue in the international aid community, especially insofar as international NGOs are concerned," said Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, when asked about bogus aid agencies and scams.

Tricare, a health care programme providing insurance to U.S. military personnel and retirees worldwide, had received claims for damaged homes from two million people from the typhoon-devastated city of Tacloban when the population, before the storm struck, was only 220 000, said Andrea Colley-Lopez, a programme manager at International SOS Assistance Inc which provides support for groups including Tricare.

"The Philippines is always going to be the bane of our existence," she said, adding medical service providers had also submitted fraudulent claims for damaged hospitals, complicating insurance groups' responses to legitimate typhoon victims.

Philippine disaster officials this week warned donor agencies and the public about two individuals - including one using the surname of President Benigno Aquino - who have been soliciting aid for typhoon victims on behalf of the defence minister.

Pork barrel

"We would like to warn the public to be vigilant and not fall to this modus operandi by unscrupulous individuals," the Department of National Defence said in a statement.

A scandal over lawmakers' misuse of "pork barrel" funds has become the biggest crisis of Aquino's three-year rule, tainting his image as a corruption fighter and undermining his ability to push economic reforms.

This week, Manila launched an online portal called Faith to provide information on donations in answer to concerns that aid money might once again end up lining pockets of local officials.

"The [pork barrel] scam has put everyone on high alert," said Vincent Lazatin, executive director at the Transparency and Accountability Network.

Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said fraud went hand in hand with natural disasters, as was the case with Tropical Storm Washi in 2011, Typhoon Bopha last year and an earthquake in central Bohol province last month.

"There are people who take advantage of the good heart of individuals, especially those who only want to give small amounts but are embarrassed to go to foundations," she said.

"For me, every cent counts, so they should give to those organisations they know."

Read more on:    philippines  |  typhoon haiyan

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.