Wide­spread cor­rup­tion mag­ni­fies ef­fects of dis­as­ter

Pres­i­dent prom­ises full trans­parency in re­con­struc­tion

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY OLIVER TEVES NICK PERRY

TA­CLOBAN, PHILIP­PINES | When a news­pa­per for Filipino work­ers in New Zealand told read­ers how to do­nate to the typhoon relief ef­fort in their home­land, it men­tioned agen­cies like the Red Cross but not a list of gov­ern­ment bank ac­counts that the Philip­pine Em­bassy had sent over.

“I’m not go­ing to mince words,” said Mel Fer­nan­dez, the ed­i­to­rial ad­viser for the Filipino Mi­grant News. “We would like ev­ery cent to reach those poor peo­ple there rather than get­ting way­laid.”

Cor­rup­tion is a con­cern af­ter any ma­jor nat­u­ral dis­as­ter, as mil­lions of dol­lars in cash and goods rush in from around the world. But such wor­ries are acute in the Philip­pines, where graft has been a part of life for decades.

The gov­ern­ment of Pres­i­dent Benigno Aquino III, who has made fight­ing cor­rup­tion a pri­or­ity, is promis­ing full trans­parency in re­con­struc­tion spend­ing in ar­eas dev­as­tated by Typhoon Haiyan, known in the Philip­pines as Yolanda. It an­nounced Mon­day that it has es­tab­lished a web­site called the For­eign Aid Trans­parency Hub, where funds given by for­eign donors can be tracked.

“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,” said Richard Moya, un­der­sec­re­tary of bud­get and man­age­ment and chief in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer.

More than $270 mil­lion in for­eign aid has been do­nated to help the vic­tims of the Nov. 8 typhoon, which killed at least 3,976 peo­ple and left nearly 1,600 miss­ing, ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment fig­ures up­dated Mon­day.

More than 4 mil­lion peo­ple have been dis­placed and need food, shel­ter and wa­ter. The typhoon also wrecked liveli­hoods on a mas­sive scale, de­stroy­ing crops, live­stock and fish­ing boats.

Sev­eral bat­tered com­mu­ni­ties ap­peared to be shift­ing from sur­vival mode to one of early re­cov­ery Mon­day. Mar­kets were re­open­ing, though with very lim­ited wares. Some gaso­line sta­tions were pump­ing, and res­i­dents were re­pair­ing dam­aged homes or mak­ing tem­po­rary shel­ters.

“The dark­est night is over but it’s not yet 100 per­cent,” re­gional mil­i­tary com­man­der Lt. Gen. Roy Dev­er­aturda said.

On Sun­day, Mr. Aquino toured the dis­as­ter area and promised to step up aid de­liv­er­ies.

Mr. Aquino said he was happy to see typhoon-bat­tered ar­eas slowly ris­ing from the dev­as­ta­tion. The aid ef­fort re­mained daunt­ing, he said, adding that the gov­ern­ment is feed­ing about 1.4 mil­lion peo­ple a day.

“One is tempted to de­spair,” Mr. Aquino told re­porters in Alan­galang in Leyte prov­ince, where he met with of­fi­cials and sur­vivors. “But the minute I de­spair, then every­body gets ham­pered in the ef­forts to get up.”

A boy takes a shower at a school turned into a tem­po­rary shel­ter for those af­fected by the storm. Hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple were dis­placed by Typhoon Haiyan.

A man uses a shovel to clean up mud in­side St. Joseph Par­ish Church, which was badly dam­aged by the typhoon.

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