By: –

11 December 2015

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.