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New administration urged to investigate unused Yolanda funds

MANILA (Agencies): Caritas Philippines has called on the country’s next administration to urgently investigate funds donated towards the victims of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) amounting to billions of pesos, left unused by the government of outgoing president, Noynoy Aquino.

Father Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of Caritas Philippines, said, “This is an important agenda that the incoming administration needs to address,” pointing out that the public, especially the victims of the 2013 super-typhoon, deserve an accounting of how the hefty donations given by foreign benefactors were spent.

Presumptive president, Rodrigo Duterte, has repeatedly vowed to be a dictator against corruption and criminality in the country and Father Gariguez said an investigation into Yolanda funds will be “a good start” for the incoming administration which has promised to stamp out irregularities in government.

“This is a good angle that needs scrutiny and we need to hasten the giving of aid because this is one of the issues,” he said.

Father Gariguez stressed that more than two years have passed since the typhoon and many survivors are still waiting for help from the government.

He added that the Church will continue to collaborate with the government in its efforts to rehabilitate areas ravaged by Yolanda in 2013 and other programmes to help the poor.

“We are always open to collaboration and just recently, we had a lot of projects together with the government, specially since it is clear that these are in response to the needs of the country,” he said.

Records from the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub showed that The Philippines received about US$386.2 million ($3.01 billion) in foreign aid for the Yolanda victims.

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