CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 15 June 2019

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Where has the Haiyan relief money gone?

MANILA (UCAN): Caritas Philippines has called for an audit of funds received by the government for victims of Typhoon Haiyan which devastated the central Philippines in 2013.

Father Edu Gariguez, the secretary of the Social Action Secretariat, said people need to see what the government has done in the three years since the devastation.

Father Gariguez said government programmes should also be looked into, adding that money intended for Haiyan victims has not been fully utilised.

“Usually when the government comes out with a report they’ll just say that they were able to build this much housing, but they won’t mention if there are occupants,” Father Gariguez said.

He cited the situation of a community in Samar province where houses built for typhoon victims remain unoccupied.

“People refuse to live there, because it is too far from their work,” he said, adding that they have also complained about lack of facilities, including electricity and water.

Father Gariguez added that funds received by the Church for Haiyan victims are open to audit. “We have no problem with that. We are always open,” he pointed out.

The ongoing rehabilitation programme run by Caritas in Haiyan-affected areas has already amounted to US$87 million ($674.25 million), benefiting some 1.8 million people.

However some 200,000 people still claim they have not received any assistance from the government.

Social welfare secretary, Judy Taguiwalo, admits that her office has found cases of irregularities in the distribution of aid after an internal assessment of donations given to the government.

“I think, generally, the money has gone to the people, but there are cases of irregularities, non-compliance or non-implementation,” Taguiwalo said at a press briefing on October 24.

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