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Civil society groups, LGUs form Yolanda Fund Watch to track rehab implementation

Prof. Leonor Briones in August 2015 Interaksyon.com file photo.

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA - Civil society groups working in Yolanda-affected areas have formed the Yolanda Fund Watch to seek accountability on the funding and implementation at the national and local levels in 2016 of the Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan (CRRP).

“Yolanda has set the new “normal” in terms of strength of calamities that may hit the country and the world. Sadly, our government’s response and slow implementation of recovery and rehabilitation efforts also set a poor record in providing relief to families devastated in the affected areas. It is now time for citizens to decisively seek accountability from the concerned agencies,” said Prof. Leonor Magtolis Briones, Social Watch Philippines (SWP) Convenor.

Convened by the SWP, the Yolanda Fund Watch is composed of NGOs and local government units working in Yolanda areas – Iloilo Code; Unahin Natin Lagi ang Diyos – Bito Lake Fisherfolk & Farmers Association (UNLAD-BLFFA) in Leyte; Alyansa Tigil Mina in Leyte also; local LGU-Tolosa, Leyte; Palawan Advocates for Good Governance and Empowerment (PAGE-PHILSSA); LGUs of Busuanga, Palawan and Basey, Samar.

The SWP-led Alternative Budget Initiative (ABI), specifically Education Network, Life Haven, Inc. representing social protection cluster and persons with disabilities, and Womanhealth have also joined the Yolanda Fund Watch. ABI has been dealing with national agencies in budget formulation and tracking of spending.

The Yolanda Fund Watch will conduct a performance audit of Yolanda rehabilitation programs, projects and activities (PPAs) through the Public Expenditure Tracking Survey (PETS), tracking of Yolanda funds from national to local or facility level, and continuous research on Yolanda-specific allocations in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) and fund utilization.

 

“The SWP study has opened our eyes to campaign for open data and transparency, and move the funds, particularly in resettlement and long term livelihood programs, faster and better. We are concerned with the very slow progress and uneven distribution of resources among the different Yolanda-affected areas. In the end, this initiative will help facilitate resources to the right PPAs on the ground,” said Mercy Caboboy, LGU Information Officer of Basey, Samar.

Yolanda Fund Watch will create CSO federations in the provincial level, hold people’s dialogue, strengthen local project monitoring committee (LPMC), organize Public Expenditure Tracking (PET) teams) at the municipal level.

At the national level, the Yolanda Fund Watch will facilitate coordination and knowledge exchange between the national government agencies and LGUs in the CRRP implementation.

According to Prof. Briones, ABI will continue to campaign for the breakdown of Yolanda-related budgets in the 2016 GAA and propose for the allocation of the remaining commitments in the CRRP.

“Even with the little time left in the congressional calendar, we appeal to our legislators to look into the CRRP implementation and fund utilization. With inefficiency plaguing the rehabilitation efforts, it is high time that Congress step up to the challenge of ensuring due diligence is accorded and the Yolanda survivors are not taken for granted, after all,” Briones said.

The Yolanda Fund Watch also reiterated its call to set up a separate agency/body with the mandate and budget to lead, supervise and coordinate government efforts.

“NEDA, assuming the coordination, monitoring and evaluation tasks  may not have the mandate to exact accountability from the implementing agencies that will not comply with the plans and targets set in the CRRP. In the end, the people should judge this administration based on how it is able to bring the country back to its feet, two years after the deadly calamity that hit us,” Briones added.

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