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UN sets rehab review

Dev’t program head to see PNoy, visit storm-hit areas

THE head of the United Nations Development Program will meet with President Benigno Aquino III next week to discuss recovery efforts in areas battered by super typhoon Yolanda.

The forthcoming visit of UNDP administrator Helen Clark was announced days after the Commission on Audit acknowledged the “chaos” in the government’s initial handling of foreign and local aid for the calamity victims.

The UNDP said Clark will travel to Tacloban City to see first-hand the ongoing recovery activities in the areas devastated by typhoon Yolanda.

Clark will also meet with Asian Development Bank president Takehiko Nakao during her three-day visit to the Philippines.

She is expected to sign an agreement with Japan on “increased support to Yolanda recovery work” as well as witness the signing of the comprehensive peace pact between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front at the Palace on March 27.

On Feb. 16, marking the 100th day after the super typhoon struck, the UNDP issued a report saying the needs in the typhoon-hit areas remained “enormous.”

The UNDP has a three-year support program for the Visayas region, which revolves around three major pillars: governance; livelihood; and disaster risk reduction and sustainable environment.

Amid criticism of the government’s handling of cash and non-cash donations for Yolanda survivors, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub Version 2.0 will be launched on April 25.

He said the new website will signal a shift from transparency to accountability and will include where the donations actually went.

“Version 2.0 will include the tracking of aid and assistance given to the national government. As had been announced previously, the COA as an access observer will audit the aid and assistance coursed through the national government,” Lacierda said.

“FAiTH is transitioning from transparency to accountability: accountability that is bolstered by the forthcoming participation of our foreign partners, and the firm commitment of the national government to build back better, which necessarily includes accounting for every centavo and peso that goes to helping our countrymen rebuild their lives after Typhoon Yolanda,” he added.

Lacierda also called on private organizations where a big volume of foreign aid has been channeled to be transparent too in accounting the cash and non-cash donations that they have received.

“The commitment embodied by FAiTH is a partnership: as government holds itself accountable to the public, so too do we encourage the Filipino people to take an active part and remain vigilant in ensuring that the help generously given to our countrymen is maximized,” he said.

Lacierda asked the public not to blame Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman for the rotten food aid distributed to storm survivors in Palo, Leyte.

“Before we can lay our blame, we just want to know how did it happen, why did it happen. So there will be an accounting,” Lacierda said.

Soliman said she has already initiated a probe on reports that maggots crawled out of the food packs that were distributed in Palo.

Barangay Gacao chairman Panchito Cortez said he saw residents converging on the barangay hall waiting for food packs delivered by the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office of Palo.

When they opened the boxes, however, worms as big as grains of rice crawled out of tetra packs and cup noodles. Biscuits were expired, and even the bottled mineral water looked murky, Cortez said.

Cortez said the goods were received by Councilwoman Maria Anna Docena, and included 50 boxes of instant coffee, five sacks of assorted biscuits, cup noodles, instant viand in tetra packs and five boxes of mineral water.

Cortez said he immediately went to the Palo town hall and confronted MSWD officer Rosalina Balderas, who admitted that the goods came from their office.

Balderas said she did not know the food was already spoiled and infested with worms, Cortez added.

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