U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Remarks on the Visayan Forum Foundation

Manila, August 7, 2018 — The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) provided funding in the past to the Visayan Forum Foundation (VFF) for projects aimed at protecting victims of human trafficking in the Philippines.  USAID halted funding on active awards to VFF in 2011, after an investigation by the Office of the USAID Inspector General (OIG) produced evidence that VFF intentionally falsified and altered documents, and lacked the necessary internal controls to protect U.S. government funds.

USAID acted quickly as a result of the OIG’s findings.  VFF’s willful violations of its statutory and regulatory requirements were so serious and compelling that USAID proposed to declare the VFF ineligible from receiving U.S. government funds for five years (called a “debarment”) on November 4, 2013.  While that specific process did not result in a debarment because of other administrative circumstances, USAID stands by its finding that VFF violated USAID’s procurement policies through the intentional falsification and alteration of documents.

USAID adheres to the conclusions of its internal decision-making process, and continues to endorse findings of the OIG’s investigation regarding VFF’s non-compliance with U.S. legal and regulatory requirements.  VFF intentionally engaged in conduct that constituted serious violations of the terms of its agreement.  USAID has zero tolerance for any fraud, waste, or abuse in connection with its programming.  USAID has issued VFF two bills of collection, and is seeking reimbursement for all funds that an independent audit identified that VFF had misused through the course of its previous agreements with USAID.

The United States commends the efforts of the Government of the Philippines and Philippine civil society in addressing human trafficking, while recognizing that more needs to be done in this area.  The U.S. government, including USAID, will continue our partnership with the Philippine government and local civil society in combating trafficking in persons, a relationship based on trust and honesty.

About USAID:

USAID is the lead U.S. government agency for international development and disaster assistance.  In the Philippines, USAID partners with the national government to build a more stable, prosperous, and well-governed nation.  For more information, visit http://www.usaid.gov/philippines or email infoph@usaid.gov.