CDO ex-mayor Emano mismanaged ‘Sendong’ relief funds, says COA

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Tropical Storm “Sendong” continues to haunt defeated Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Vicente Emano two years after he was widely blamed for the massive death toll and destruction in his hometown.

In its 2012 report, the Commission on Audit (COA) accused Emano of mismanaging millions of pesos in rehabilitation and relief funds for his city and constituents, including the diversion of P11.5 million, which came from the pork barrel of President Aquino.

The COA criticized Emano and his team for the undue delays in deploying the P123.94 million in cash donations that poured in after the public became aware of the high death toll from Sendong.

Idle P50-million deposit

The COA was stumped on why city hall spent only P73.94 million of the donated funds and left P50 million in its bank deposits idle while thousands of residents continued to suffer due to damaged homes and infrastructure.

Under Republic Act No. 10121, or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, the COA said the city administrators should have acted quickly to save more lives, minimize health risks, ensure public safety and meet the basic needs of disaster victims.

The COA also noted that city hall was supposed to spend P55 million for the construction of 500 units of permanent shelters for evacuees.

But a year after Sendong ravaged the city, the mayor and his team only spent P8.8 million as mobilization fee for the contractor, SCV Construction, which the COA noted was not qualified to undertake the project on legal, technical and financial parameters.

The COA said the city authorities trimmed the project size from 500 to 80 units due to their failure to acquire lots for relocation sites.

“It is a sad thing to note that until now, the city government is unable to provide us concrete data on the actual completed permanent shelters already distributed to the typhoon victims,” the COA said.

The President also allocated P50 million from his Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) for Cagayan de Oro City to bankroll the projects identified by the government in its special allotment release order dated December 19, 2011, for “the repair, rehabilitation and reconstruction of school buildings, irrigation systems, flood control and roads and bridges in areas affected by calamities.”

Why a water system?

The COA audit showed that Emano used P11.5 million of the President’s allocation to build the Indahag Water System Phase 2 without the consent of the President.

“As noted, the construction of (the) water system is not among the projects or activities to be funded from the PDAF. Any proposed changes, modifications or revisions of the defined uses or purposes thereof require prior consent and/or approval of the grantor, in this case, the President of the Philippines or his authorized representative,” the COA said.

For its part, the city administration argued that it considered the President’s PDAF release as a “lump-sum subsidy,” which did not require the President’s approval.

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