Govt website aims to quell fears amid Philippine disaster

Summary:Philippine government sets up the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub website in a bid to make foreign aids, cash pledges, and donations, transparent to the public.

The Philippine government has created a new website, called Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (Faith), in an attempt to make foreign aids--in terms of cash pledges and donations in kind--transparent to the public and interested parties.

Philippines
Philippine government turns to the Web to address concerns about foreign aid.

This site was established as rescue and relief operations continue in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, which left thousands dead and millions displaced. 

According to the government, Faith will allow the public to "monitor the status of foreign assistance to the country in response to disasters and calamities". It is touted to a be a ground-breaking initiative, considering the Philippines previously did not have a system of tracking the use of disaster relief funds donated by other countries and aid organizations.

As long as donations are coursed through select government agencies, the public can track where the donations went, while another set of government agencies will do the monitoring. In short, visitors to the website can "view" details of foreign aid--be it from an individual, donor country, or organization.

Primarily, the Faith website is an attempt by the government to quell growing concerns that some foreign donations have gone to unscrupulous individuals or groups amid the confusion and chaos in Leyte province, the most hard-hit area by the typhoon.

There were even reports that some foreign donors had given orders to their on-site representatives to avoid giving donations to local government officials.

This does not bode well for the national government's relief efforts, even as it continues to receive widespread criticisms for failing to put some semblance of order in chaotic situations, particularly in some areas.

Aside from the usual bureaucracy, there have been numerous reports that many foreign and domestic aids have yet to reach some areas in Leyte, which are all desperately calling for help. Given that critical infrastructures such as communications and transportation, continue to challenge relief efforts, the government has been heavily criticized for being disorganized.

It did not help that some government officials had unabashedly plastered their names in donation boxes, in what the public perceived as "politicking".

It is apparent that the Faith website was borne out of a sense of urgency from the government as it tries to clean up its image and send a message to the public that it is doing what it can despite the chaos.

In the wake of the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan, one can only hope that this initiative will indeed help Leyte province get back on its feet and restore the public's faith in the Philippine government.

Topics: Tech Industry, Government : Asia, Philippines

About

Joel has been a media practitioner since 1996, starting off as a reporter and eventually becoming editor of a pioneering IT trade newspaper in Manila. He is currently one of the content producers of a Manila-based developmental website.

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