Press Release
November 6, 2015

Post Facebook photos of P93 B worth of Yolanda projects - Recto

Post Facebook photos of P93 B worth of Yolanda projects - Recto

Government was told to open a Yolanda Facebook page where it can upload "photographic proof" of the P93 billion worth of projects and programs it claims to have implemented to date to repair the damage wrought by the strongest typhoon to ever make landfall.

Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto made the proposal after noting that most government reports on Yolanda reconstruction "are couched in numbers, in accounting ledgers, that a layman would find hard to comprehend."

"Instead of spreadsheets, why not try photo albums," Recto said, adding that such documentary proof is easy to assemble "in an era when every Filipino has a phone, most phones have a camera, and 30 million Filipinos are on Facebook."

"People will appreciate photos more than Excel files. Instead of printing the accomplishment report on glossy paper only a few can read, why not post it on Facebook where it can probably attract thousands of likes?" he said.

Recto said a Facebook page is free, easy to maintain, and accessible to all.

With government spending billions of pesos annually to monitor and evaluate taxpayer-funded projects, "there's one untapped, free and effective tracking tool, and that's Facebook."

"So instead of saying we have released P100 million for the repair of classrooms in this province, an agency can just post in Facebook photos of classrooms repaired, and caption each photo with the building cost, location and the date of construction," Recto said.

He said the "transparency features" of a project can be spelled out in the photo caption.

"Indicate the Special Allotment Release Order (SARO), the name of the contractor, that way you invite the people also to confirm if such indeed was done on time, at cost, and according to specs," Recto said, referring to the fund release document issued by the Budget department.

He said bringing monitoring online, through a popular social site, would allow more people to be involved, "unlike the traditional methods of divulging project details."

According to Recto, "Facebook as a reporting tool" can be tested on the 929 housing units so far completed - out of the 205,128 needed - by uploading their photos, as well as the units under construction.

"It's more illustrative than merely saying that P26.9 billion has been released to the National Housing Authority (NHA) since 2013," Recto said.

Of the P93.7 billion of funds released for reconstruction, NHA got the biggest allocation next to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) which had received P30.7 billion.

Recto said the DSWD can post photos of the products its livelihood grants have developed or the community-built projects it had funded.

"On its direct assistance programs, it can just post charts showing the areas where these were given and the number of beneficiaries for each program," he said.

Recto said for "wider reach", there can be various Facebook pages.

"It can be done per agency. For example, the DPWH can show photos of the projects funded by the P5.6 billion given to it for the repair of damaged roads and other infrastructure. Or it can be done by province, in which each national government agency will list down what it has done with the money given to it for that place," Recto said.

Recto said the national budget is littered with stringent reportorial requirements which agencies must observe.

"But almost all are required to report to the House and the Senate. It is time to ask them to report to the people as well, through social media," he said.

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