P406M in Marawi funds for 2018 expire
MANILA, Philippines — At least P406.5 million in funds allotted in 2018 for the rebuilding of Marawi City expired and reverted to the national treasury mainly because of the slow approval of the national disaster agency and the Office of the President.
The Marawi funds were included in the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (NDRRMF) of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), said acting Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado.
“[But] the [Department of Budget and Management’s] (DBM) releases are contingent on the NDRRMC’s endorsement and the Office of the President’s approval,” Avisado said.
Under NDRRMC rules, the NDRRMF can only be disbursed after implementing agencies submit project proposals that have been evaluated by the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) that serves as the secretariat of the NDRRMC, which subsequently endorses the project to the Office of the President, Avisado explained.
The government also struggled to use the P3.5 billion in Marawi funds appropriated under the 2019 spending bill, which will expire at the end of the year.
The latest DBM data showed that P5.1 billion was allotted for the Marawi Recovery, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program (MRRRP) in the 2018 national budget and P4.4 billion was released as of Dec. 31, 2019.
Of the P717.6-million balance, P311.1 million was earmarked for several projects but P307.9 million remained pending for approval by the Office of the President, on top of P3.3 million already approved by the Office of the President for issuance of the special allotment release order.
Thus, P406.5 million expired despite the flurry of fund disbursements in December.
During the month of December alone, the DBM released P458.2 million to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to build in Marawi City barangay complexes with “madrasah” and health centers, a “peace memorial park,” a central market, a museum, as well as a “school of living tradition.”
Also released to the DPWH last December was a hefty P1.9 billion for the Marawi City housing program; P202 million to build or rebuild classrooms; P100 million to build the city’s command center; and P20.9 million to build a fence around Mindanao State University.
The DBM likewise released P1.7 million to the newly formed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s Department of Education regional office to buy furniture for schools affected by the five-month Marawi siege in 2017.
The DBM also released to the state-run Local Water Utilities Administration P13.8 million in subsidies for the provision of bulk water supply for the most affected area or “ground zero” of the Marawi siege. In addition to the 2018 budget, the government also allotted P3.5 billion for the MRRRP in the 2019 budget but only P62.9 million had been released as of Dec. 31 and P2.9 billion remained unreleased.
These 2019 releases to the DPWH included P52.6 million to build an integrated school and P10.4 million for the central fire station.
Of the P3.4-billion balance in the 2019 funds, P555.4 million was already earmarked for approval and signature of the secretary of national defense and the OCD administrator. INQ
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