- Posted December 1, 2013 by
quezon city, Philippines
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Typhoon Haiyan: Your stories
PROTECT TYPHOON HAIYAN DONATIONS LETTER APPEAL
At the same time, we’re particularly proud of our Kababayans for holding on to the spirit of bayanihan (the tradition of helping one’s neighbor), even if they themselves were directly affected by the super typhoon; and even though they live in foreign countries.
Unfortunately, there have been numerous reports regarding alleged misappropriation and mismanagement of relief goods by certain government agaencies & officials, as well as scams perpetrated by scrupulous individuals. That is why we should be extra vigilant in making sure that the donations reach their intended beneficiaries.
As of Nov. 28, 2013, the Philippine government’s FOREIGN AID TRANSPARENCY HUB (http://www.gov.ph/faith/) posted the following report:
Total foreign aid pledged:
Total foreign aid received:
Forex: 1 USD = PHP43.884 source: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas as of 11/26/2013
However, upon viewing the full report, we noticed that it only reflects the donations given or pledged by the donor- country’s government. It does not include the donations given by private companies, organizations, and individuals.
In the United States alone, several companies, organizations, and citizens have responded to the call for assistance made by Philippine Ambassador Jose Cuisia, Jr.
Below is the press release posted on the website of the Philippine Embassy in Washington:
21/11/2013: SYMPATHY FOR THE PHILIPPINES, SUPPORT FOR TYPHOON VICTIMS ACROSS US OVERWHELMING
21 November 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C—From a 13-year-old schoolgirl in Virginia who broke her piggy bank to donate her $100 in savings to a large evangelical group in North Carolina that dispatched a 747 with $5 million worth of relief goods, sympathy and support for typhoon victims in the Philippines is simply overwhelming.
“We are touched by the outpouring of sympathy and solidarity by our friends here in the United States,” Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. said two weeks after Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most violent storms in recorded history, killed more than 4,000 people and affected around 10 million in its devastating rampage across the Central Philippines.
“Our people are deeply indebted to all those who came to our succor,” Ambassador Cuisia said, adding that the Philippine Consulates General in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Honolulu and Agana also reported the same outpouring of support from the American public.
The US Government was among the first to respond to the disaster with the release of more than $37 million in emergency assistance and the deployment of air and naval assets, including the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, to support the Philippine Government’s relief efforts.
Ambassador Cuisia said that no less than President Obama himself has called on the American people to support the ongoing typhoon relief efforts in the Philippines. This is in addition to the resolutions of support for the Philippines that were approved by the US Senate and the House of Representatives.
Ambassador Cuisia also cited the critical role played by American doctors from the Mammoth Medical Missions and search and rescue specialists from Team Rubicon, both based in California, who were also among the first foreign volunteers to make it to Leyte.
According to the Ambassador, the timely deployment of the Mammoth and Team Rubicon volunteers, which was facilitated by the Philippine Embassy, helped saved a number of lives in the town of Tanauan, south of Tacloban, where they served under difficult conditions.
Ambassador Cuisia also cited Samaritan’s Purse, a North Carolina-based international relief agency headed by Franklin Graham, the son of evangelist Billy Graham, which flew in a 747 plane carrying approximately 100 metric tons of relief supplies with an estimated value of $5 million. The organization even purchased 10 trucks in the Philippines to help distribute their goods and will spend for the charter of local planes or helicopters for their work.
Ambassador Cuisia said Catholic churches across the US also responded to the call for assistance for the Philippines and offered their second collections to support the relief efforts for typhoon victims being undertaken by the Catholic Relief Services. The Baptist Church in the US is also raising funds for typhoon victims through its Baptist World Aid program.
Among the first to respond to the typhoon relief efforts was Asia-America Initiative (AAI) headed by Albert Santoli, which flew in 14,000 pounds of medicines and medical supplies for the Philippine Red Cross valued at more than $1 million.
Ambassador Cuisia said JP Morgan donated $1 million and a commitment to match funds raised by 12,000 employees at their shared services operations in the Philippines up to $250,000. Procter and Gamble donated $1.5 million worth of daily use products and 1 million sachets of water purifying products. It will also match the fundraising of its employees up to $100,000.
Other corporate donors include United Parcel Service, $1 million; General Electric, $750,000; Abott Laboratories, $450,000; Citigroup, $250,000; Caterpillar, $100,000; Medtronic, $100,000; and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Field LLP, $50,000.
Filipino-American organizations are also actively involved in fundraising and other activities to support the ongoing disaster relief efforts. Last week, Ambassador Cuisia gathered Filipino community leaders to discuss how the Embassy and the community could coordinate their efforts, including a huge benefit concert featuring popular artists with Filipino descent.
Bing Branigin, member of the Board of Governors of the National Federation of Filipino-American Associations, said the organization has been working with Filipino and other Asian-American organizations, including Feed the Hungry, in raising almost $5 million to support the relief efforts. At one-fundraiser in Virginia Beach, newly reelected State Delegate Ron Villanueva and other volunteers were able to raise $40,000 for typhoon victims.
The Migrant Heritage Commission, a Washington-based grassroots organization led by lawyer Arnedo Valera, also launched its Tulong Mula sa Puso, that seeks to help affected communities in other areas in the Central Visayas that were also devastated by Haiyan.
The World Bank-International Monetary Fund Filipino Association and the Filipino Young Professionals of DC have also launched their own fundraising initiatives for typhoon victims.
It is not only the big corporations and organizations that have responded.
Thirteen-year-old Ma. Renzie Enaje of the Kilmer Middle School in Vienna opened her piggy bank and donated $139 she collected from her weekly allowance for the relief efforts. Student organizations at William and Mary in Williamsburg, George Mason University in Farifax and the University of Maryland in College Park have also initiated their own fund-raising activities.
Ben James Ambalong, owner of Stimulating Media, a web design firm based in Maryland, took time out to help the Embassy develop the Bayanihan webpage (www.philippinesusa.org/haiyan) that provided information not only on developments in the affected areas in the Philippines but also on how the public could assist typhoon victims.
Devinka Puswella, a Sri Lankan-American who witnessed the devastation caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, organized a relief drive at her daughter’s school in Howard County. She said relief items donated by students at Glenelg Country School filled up the school gym.
The Vietnamese-American, Taiwanese-American and Cambodian-American communities are also actively engaged in fundraising efforts for typhoon victims in the Philippines. The Vietnamese Embassy collected over $1,000 from its personnel and donated this to typhoon victims.
Aside from the donations mentioned above, we also noted that several Filipino communities in the United States are planning more fund- raising events in coordination with the Philippine Embassy.
As much as we laud the efforts and generosity of everybody involved, we can’t help but feel wary and concerned that Ambassador Cuisia is at the helm, or involved in some way with the fund- raising activities. Why, you may ask... Allow us to state the facts.
In 2004, Ambassador Jose Cuisia and his wife, Victoria were slapped with 14 counts of estafa by Domingo and Emilia Jose, parents of Ma. Victoria. The plaintiffs alleged that Cuisia and his wife misappropriated the money that were entrusted to them amounting to PHP134.127million. The case managed to land in the headlines of several major dailies in the Philippines.
Then in 2005, Mrs. Emilia Jose sought to disinherit Ma. Victoria and her brother, Rene Jose for allegedly misappropriating her money and for the verbal maltreatment committed against her by the siblings.
Although the 14 counts of estafa were dismissed, the Court of Appeals upheld its earlier decision to disallow Ma. Victoria and Rene Jose from receiving their inheritance. News of the disinheritance was posted on GMA NEWS online.
Despite the media coverage, the disinheritance, and the eventual demise of her parents, Ma. Victoria and Ambassador Cuisia never returned any of the money entrusted to them.
What do these cases have to do with the relief operations for Typhoon Haiyan victims? Our purpose is clear, and our message is simple.
We are appealing to our Kababayans and people in the United States to safeguard their donations. First, before giving any amount of money or item, check the credentials of the organization or the person receiving the donation. Second, if you already made the donation, make sure they are properly documented and accounted for. Finally, would you entrust your donation to someone with a questionable level of honesty and reliability?
Maraming Salamat Po At Mabuhay Kayong Lahat
Note attached are documents to prove our claims!