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Philippine church officials promise transparency in typhoon fund

Statement follows government admission of lax monitoring due to disaster's urgency

<p>Residents in devastated areas find temporary work repacking relief goods in government warehouses (photo by Vincent Go)</p>

Residents in devastated areas find temporary work repacking relief goods in government warehouses (photo by Vincent Go)

  • ucanews.com reporter, Manila
  • Philippines
  • March 21, 2014
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Donations received by Church organizations for victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan are all accounted for, said the head of the Philippines bishops’ social action secretariat.

"All donations to Caritas Philippines and Internationalis have strict and efficient accounting mechanisms and processes," Fr Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of the National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace, told ucanews.com.

"We have our monitoring system," Fr Gariguez said, adding that the funds the Church receives are audited by external accounting firms that follow international standards.

The priest made the statement after the Philippine Senate directed the social welfare department to submit a list of organizations that gathered donations for Haiyan victims.

Philippine laws dictate that organizations that want to raise funds for victims of disasters must secure a permit from the welfare department.

Organizations also are required to submit a report on how the donations are used. Organizations that fail to register or fail to submit reports on the donations face a fine.

Gariguez said church organizations are willing to submit a list of all donations that they received if asked to do so, adding that their record is open to the public.

"We even publish reports for full transparency," the priest said.

He said the Catholic bishops’ conference already spent $7.7 million for its relief operations.

"Now we are planning for the rehabilitation of nine affected dioceses," Gariguez said.

Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman earlier admitted that the government did not monitor funds raised by private organizations for typhoon victims due to the urgency of the situation.

The Archdiocese of Palo in Leyte province, meanwhile, appealed to the government to control the prices of commodities in devastated areas.

"The prices of basic goods, such as food items, are very high and we are very sad about this," said Fr Amadeo Alvero, the diocese’s spokesperson, adding that prices of basic commodities have doubled and tripled.

UNICEF said Thursday that the needs in typhoon affected areas "remain great".

"The risk of disease is ever present, and so far only half of affected communities have seen their health centers reopen,” said Lotta Sylwander, UNICEF Philippines representative, in a statement.

Typhoon Haiyan ripped through the central Philippines in November last year, leaving more than 6,200 dead, based on official government records.

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