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Bishops call for Haiyan relief funds transparency

Warning follows scandals over past disaster efforts in the Philippines

<p>Haiyan victims appeal for food in Cebu Province (photo by Joe Torres)</p>

Haiyan victims appeal for food in Cebu Province (photo by Joe Torres)

  • ucanews.com reporter, Manila
  • Philippines
  • November 13, 2013
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The Catholic bishops' conference has urged the Philippines government to be transparent in handling an expected flood of donations for victims of last week’s Typhoon Haiyan, following past accusations of misappropriated funds for disaster relief.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, president of the bishops' conference social action secretariat, warned a forum in Manila on Tuesday after financial aid for tropical storm relief in 2009 was later found to have been diverted to government ghost projects.

Investigators received a petition that pointed to the theft of US$20.7 million by Janet Lim-Napoles, a businesswoman facing a major embezzlement probe, after the funds were siphoned from bogus NGOs designed to help victims of Tropical Storm Ondoy and Typhoon Pepeng.

“We call on the government to be transparent and honest because all of this money might only go to waste,” he said. “We asked our social action centers that whatever donations they get they should report to the people… We encourage everyone to do the same.”

The UN this week launched a US$301-million appeal to help 11 million affected by Haiyan, among the worst ever recorded typhoons to have made landfall.

Since news of the scale of the disaster began to trickle out of Tacloban in Leyte province and northern Cebu – areas where whole towns and villages were destroyed – numerous foreign governments have made large donations including the Vatican which gave US$150,000.

“That sum, which will be distributed through the local Church in the regions most severely touched by the calamity, will be dedicated to supporting actions in favor of those displaced and those affected by flooding, and it represents an initial and immediate expression of the sentiments of spiritual closeness and fatherly encouragement of the Supreme Pontiff towards the persons and the areas devastated by the storm,” read a letter signed by Monsignor Seamus Horgan of Cor Unum.

Cor Unum is the Vatican's department of charity. 

Aside from the Vatican donation, Pabillo said that the Philippines bishops' conference social action office has received pledges from Caritas branches in Australia, Norway and the United States.

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