UN officials did not accuse Liberal Party of misusing Yolanda funds

Yolanda Victims | GMA Network

A UNITED Nations (UN) special rapporteur this week has responded to claims that the UN had accused the Philippines’ then-ruling Liberal Party (LP) of misusing disaster relief funds for election campaigning in 2016.

This comes after a video posted on Facebook on October 30, 2018. took footage from a press conference in 2015 given by Chaloka Beyani, who was then-UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons.

In July 2015, Beyani visited the Philippines to look into a range of issues in relation to internally displaced people, and presented his findings to the United Nations.

At the end of his trip, Beyani gave a press conference, which was reported by ABS-CBN.

The rapporteur, however, said that he never made that claim, nor did his report on the Philippines, and that the screenshot used in the false post is from a TV news clip available online.

“Neither my statement nor my report made any mention of the use of funds for rebuilding the areas affected by Typhoon Haiyan by a political party. It is regrettable that part of the video of my press conference was used to cover this allegation. I categorically did not say that at all,” Beyani told AFP in an email.

According to ABS-CBN, the report which focused on raising criticisms about the government’s relief efforts for Haiyan victims showed some footage from Beyani’s press conference but it does not quote him directly.

The Facebook post also claimed that the UN said the LP misused donations given to the Philippines to recover from super typhoon Haiyan, which took thousands of lives and flattened entire towns back in 2013.

The LP, led by then-President Benigno Aquino III, was previously in power but is now in the opposition after its candidate lost the 2016 presidential elections.

The post, which was promoted on a page presenting itself as a supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte, said, “Even the UN has asked where the almost trillion-worth of global donations to Yolanda victims went to.”

“CONFIRM! Funds for Yolanda used by the yellows to campaign in the elections, according to UN,” the caption next to the screenshot in the false Facebook post read.

“Yellows” usually refer to the LP.

Beyani’s report that was submitted to the UN gave a detailed analysis of the government’s response to the disaster.

AFP analyzed the report and confirmed there is no allegation of a political party misusing relief funds.

A statement following his trip was also released by Beyani through the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). It listed positive and negative issues for the government but, again, made no allegations of misusing funds.

Beyani returned to work as a professor at the London School of Economics after his tenure as a special rapporteur ended in 2016.

Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, the current UN special rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, told AFP that no such allegation had been made against the LP nor Aquino.

“The office of the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of IDPs, as an independent mandate and based on the visit of Prof. Chaloka Beyani to the Philippines in 2015, has not stated that the Liberal Party nor Aquino used the Haiyan funds for their election campaigns,” Jimenez-Damary said in an e-mail.

According to a spokesman for OHCHR, the body did not make any allegations against the Liberal Party in regards to misusing Haiyan funds.

“There was certainly nothing from OHCHR or the Rapporteurs,” OHCHR spokesman Rupert Colville told AFP by email.

A search of the UN’s press releases and UN’s general website further showed that the organization did not make any announcements on Haiyan donations, nor statements on the typhoon that mention the Philippine LP.

The false Facebook post has gained more than 4,500 shares as of this writing. 

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