COA finds P923 million in unused disaster funds
Emergency funds have been idle since 2008, with only 17% of donations laid out.
(SPOT.ph) The Commission on Audit (COA) found P923 million unused calamity funds accumulated through the years, coursed through the Department of National Defense (DND), the agency in charge of disaster management. The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) which oversees the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) was called out for the “very low” utilization rate of quick relief funds and donations intended for disaster victims. According to COA, the amount “was not utilized as envisioned and became idle, thus depriving the intended beneficiaries of the benefits.”
According to the COA’s annual report, the NDRRMC received over P466 million in foreign and local donations since 2008, but only P81 million or 17% was laid out by the end of 2014. The biggest donation received by the NDRRMC was the P137 milion intended for the victims of the 2013 typhoon Yolanda. According to COA, only P38.7 million or 28% of the donated amount was released by the OCD by the end of 2014. The audit body said that even donations for 2013 calamities remain untouched. The P384.95 million kept by the OCD in a trust account in the Development Bank of the Philippines earned an interest of P1.7 million.
The COA said that the idle finances should have been turned over to the Bureau of the Treasury, or returned to the donors. It also said that the funds could have been used for other important government projects. The audit body recommended that the OCD form specific guidelines on the utilization of donations according to the functions of each member agency of the NDRRMC. As for the DND, COA asked the agency to inform the Department of Budget and Management to reallocate the relief funds in order to “provide only what is necessary in the performance” of the OCD’s functions.
“As could be deduced from the status of the funds, there was no planned action of activities for the release of funds resulting in the low rate of utilization, thus, depriving the intended beneficiaries,” COA said. “We noted that it takes time before calamity victims are extended the necessary assistance due to the claimant’s long period of compliance with the documentary requirements,” it added.
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