ASIA/PHILIPPINES - The Bishops: social networks to tear down the corruption-risk regarding aid to the victims of the typhoon

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Manila (Agenzia Fides) - The widespread problem of corruption in the Philippines is likely to pollute and slow down the donations for the victims of Typhoon Hayian: "The flow of money that arrives in the Philippines can be a wonderful opportunity for the corrupt. This is why, new technologies such as social networking tools can be put at the service of transparency and monitoring of aid", says to Fides Agency Fr. Francis Lucas, Executive Secretary of the "Commission for Social Communications" in the Bishops' Conference of the Philippines. Fr. Lucas recalls that "corruption is endemic in the country and that the funds for the victims of the typhoon can be a source that feeds it". On the other hand, in recent months the nation has debated the issue of "Pork barrell", the contribution that the state gives to parliamentarians to promote development in the regions, often the object of heavy embezzlement. And just a day before typhoon Hayian, November 7, the entire nation followed the case of the entrepreneur Janet Lim-Napoles, accused of masterminding a plan to loot millions of dollars of public funds, for projects to alleviate poverty.
Corruption is a problem that arises after every natural disaster. Much of the early post-disaster aid is in the form of food, water and other supplies. More opportunities for corruption is the reconstruction phase, when large sums of money circulate. The Philippine judiciary, in fact, is investigating the case of $ 20.7 million of government funds diverted by corrupt officials, at the time of the storm that struck the northern island of Luzon in 2009.
The government of President Benigno Aquino, Jr, has made fighting corruption a priority: this is why it announced the creation of a website called "Transparency Hub" to track funds provided by foreign donors for the victims of Typhoon Hayan. Currently , more than 270 million dollars in foreign aid have been donated to help the victims of the Typhoon on 8 November, which killed, according to the latest reports, about 4,000 people and left nearly 1,600 missing. The displaced are about 4 million.
The Philippine Church has always denounced the corruption as a cancer of the country. Cardinal Antonio Tagle called it "a dagger pointed at our hearts". In a recent speech, the President of the Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, Mgr. Socrates Villegas, reiterated that "the problem is not just the corruption of government officials, but morality", inviting all people to "a surge of ethics, credibility and moral integrity, based on the Gospel".
In its latest report on global corruption, the NGO "Transparency International" ranks the Philippines 105 out of 174 countries. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 19/11/2013)