Printed on: November 19, 2013

Corruption fears rampant


TACLOBAN, Philippines (AP) -- 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 those worries are especially 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," Undersecretary of Budget and Management and Chief Information Officer Richard Moya said in a statement.

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, coconut plantations and fishing boats. Aaron Favila / Associated Press

Survivors struggle to receive relief goods from a private group in typhoon-hit Tacloban, Leyte province, central Philippines, on Monday.