COA: ‘Yolanda’ aid wasted, unused
A Commission on Audit (COA) report on the government’s “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) relief efforts found thousands of food packs, canned goods, bottled water, body bags and rice spoiled or missing or unused; millions of pesos worth of goods and funds unaccounted for, and close to a billion pesos in funds still unused months after the supertyphoon pummeled Eastern Visayas.
“Our audit documented many examples wherein quick action was not possible due to longstanding policies that require extensive, time-consuming processes, delaying the delivery of vital supplies and other assistance,” said the report last week.
“On the other hand, we also found examples where processes under procurement and distribution of relief goods left the government to possible abuse,” it said.
It cited seven weaknesses in the performance of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), National Food Authority and Office of the Civil Defense. These are low use of funds, procedural lapses or deficiencies in tracking receipts and use of funds, serious flaws in the procurement and contracting process, flaws in documenting flow of donated cash and goods, absence of a unified inventory system, shortcomings in logistics management and delay in the delivery or nondelivery of goods.
“Decision makers find themselves trapped in a struggle between implementing controls and accountability mechanisms and the demand for rapid response and recovery assistance,” the COA said.
In the case of the DSWD, the COA said the agency failed to deliver on time to Tacloban City P69 million worth of bottled water due to lack of transport (the DSWD has moved to cancel 56 percent of the purchase order).
The COA said the DSWD also overstated the amount of family food packs it prepared in its Metro Manila center by P33.3 million. Supplies worth P58 million were spoiled or wasted due to improper storage, the COA said.
The other findings of the report: At least 1,000 sacks of rice and 128,400 cans of sardines were missing and P58.8 million worth of rice could not be verified with purchase records; disposal of damaged or dented canned goods were not documented, and P2.783 million worth of food packs and 100,000 assorted canned goods, noodles and sacks of rice were ruined.
For the DPWH, the COA said the agency failed to use the P4.4-million cash donation from Sambo Engineering Corp. of South Korea while P5.395 million worth of donated goods were not recorded.
In the case of the DOH, the COA said the agency did not remit to the National Treasury P13.2 million in unused donations; it did not have agreements covering 93 percent of the
P60.5 million total donations it received, which have made liquidation difficult, and 27,808 pieces of body bags were not distributed on time (24,300 cadaver bags were still at the DOH warehouse as of January this year).
In assessing the DILG, the COA noted that the agency failed in preparing for the disaster as the affected LGUs’ readiness was given a poor rate of 23 percent, and more than half of the P76 million disaster management funds were not used.
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