MANILA, Philippines- A British-based media The Daily Mail on weekend reported an alleged pilferage of relief goods to typhoon-Yolanda victims, causing an uproar to some international relief funding agencies.
According to the report, emergency aid sent from UK to the Philippines “ is being siphoned off and sold for profit by corrupt local officials.”
“Emergency supplies delivered by military helicopters have turned up on the shelves of shops in affluent districts of the capital Manila – hundreds of miles from the disaster zone,” The Daily Mail reported.
The report further said that due to the issue “the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) – an umbrella group representing 14 UK charities – expressed concern about evidence that suggests not all the £60 million of aid given by Britain is reaching those most in need.”
Malacanang Palace on Monday however said that based on the government’s Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAiTH) website, relief goods from the UK “have been channelled through both the UK government and other entities such as the United Nations, the Red Cross and non-governmental organizations.”
“ We are able to directly monitor only aid that is coursed though the Philippine government agencies such as the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council and Department of Social Welfare and Development,” said Presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma Jr.
Quoting a report from NDRRMC Executive Director Eduardo del Rosario, Coloma added that “relief and assistance has reached all of the 591 municipalities in 44 provinces covered by nine regions that were hit by typhoon Yolanda.”
“This is based on verified reports from municipal disaster risk reduction and management councils headed by mayors. Remote outlying barangays or villages have been reached by helicopters and small sea craft carrying relief goods distributed by social workers and Armed Forces of the Philippines personnel,” Coloma said.
Coloma however said that there is “a need to verify further where exactly the alleged diversions occurred so that specific responsibility may be pinpointed.”
“These unverified reports are also circulated in the media where the allegations are being spread virally without benefit of validation or confirmation.”
Coloma also called on those individuals who have specific knowledge on the issue to come forward and give relevant information to the nearest DSWD or public information agency office for proper action from law enforcement personnel.
In said The Daily Mail report, it quoted one foreigner who is married to a Filipina in Hernani, Eastern Samar, saying local officials were allegedly “stealing aid in Eastern Samar.”
As identified by The Daily Mail, the expat Keb Darge from Scotland, said that “‘The aid isn’t getting through to where it’s needed.”
“ I’ve seen the deliveries arrive and I’ve seen them disappear,” Darge told The DailyMail in the report.
“Only a tiny percentage of the aid is getting through. The situation isn’t going to improve unless there’s an investigation. Someone needs to go and find out exactly what is happening. It is British aid coming in. Why give it to untrustworthy officials to steal? It is ludicrous,” added Darge in the report.
According to the report, Darge has escaped to Manila, fearing for his life after exposing the alleged issue.