DAVAO CITY—Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman again defended the agency’s construction of allegedly overpriced bunkhouses in areas devastated by Typhoon “Pablo.”
Speaking in a press conference in Davao City at the 2013 Philippines Development Forum on Monday, Soliman said the difference in the cost of bunkhouses built by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and those funded by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) was “mainly due to varying design features.”
In the towns of Cateel, Baganga and Boston in Davao Oriental, a total of 21 bunkhouses were built by the DSWD’s Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) engineering group headed by Santos Eusebio.
Research done by the Inquirer showed that a DSWD bunkhouse costs P550,000 while an IOM bunkhouse is only P200,000.
Soliman, however, said DSWD bunkhouses have bigger floor areas and thicker floor slabs. She said DSWD also used more GI sheets for its bunkhouses than IOM did in its bunkhouses.
The floor area of a DSWD bunkhouse is 12 by 16 feet while the IOM bunkhouse has a floor area of 10 by 18 feet.
Government bunkhouses also have pathways, wash areas and kitchens which IOM bunkhouses don’t have, said Soliman.
In a statement, Soliman said unused materials are being kept in a DSWD warehouse in Cateel. But a check made by Inquirer showed there is no DSWD warehouse in the town.
Soliman said government soldiers did work on the bunkhouses in San Rafael village in Cateel and received P100 a day in food allowances.
Priscilla Razon, acting DSWD regional director, said the soldiers signed acknowledgment receipts for the food allowances.
The Inquirer, however, found neither liquidation nor acknowledgment receipts when it checked DSWD records last week. “It should be there,” Razon told Inquirer in an interview on Wednesday.
Soliman, in her statement, said the DSWD saved at least P17,465 in labor costs as a result of the soldiers’ work. There was no record of this, however.
Soliman, however, said she is calling for an examination by the Commission on Audit of the bunkhouse project. “Rest assured that should there be findings of irregularities, the DSWD management will deal with this accordingly upholding the tenets of full accountability and transparency,” she said.