LGUs, DND violated rules on disaster fund management - COA | Inquirer News
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LGUs, DND violated rules on disaster fund management – COA

/ 11:00 PM January 22, 2017
Commission on Audit (INQUIRER FILE PHOTO)

Commission on Audit (INQUIRER FILE PHOTO)

MANILA — Local government units and the Department of National Defense were the biggest violators of rules on the use of disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) funds in 2015, according to the Commission on Audit’s first-ever audit report on such allocations.

State auditors said 22 local government units have failed to allocate at least P124.95-million funds for the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (LDRRMF). One such LGU in the National Capital Region failed to allocate P93.79 million.

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The LGUs have failed to conform with Section 21 of the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, which requires that 5% of revenue be set aside for disaster preparedness and mitigation.

“Thus, there was no assurance that the DRRM projects and programs of the concerned LGUs have been fully and effectively implemented,” the report stated.

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Meanwhile, 183 LGUs did not transfer their unspent and unused LDRRMF balances totaling P3.05 billion to the Special Trust Funds, a standby sum meant to support disaster management programs for up to five years.

Three Metro Manila LGUs accounted for a bulk of this finding, at P1.993 billion, followed by 23 LGUs in Calabarzon with P220 million and nine LGUs in Central Luzon with P208 million.

Misused funds

Meanwhile, a total of P244.997 million was spent by 124 LGUs on activities not related to disaster risk management, instead of being funded by regular appropriations.

This was in violation of the Department of Interior and Local Government Memorandum Circular No. 2012-73. Calabarzon and Western Visayas accounted for 19 LGUs each that misused the funds.

Five LGUs, three of them in Calabarzon, were found to have failed to use P92.2 million, representing the 70% share of the LDRRMF that the DILG circular said may be used to procure early warning systems and preparedness equipment.

Meanwhile, the use of P19.36 million by 12 LGUs was not backed up by the required supporting documents.

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No disaster management offices

Besides the allocation issues, the CoA also observed the failure of 57 LGUs—10 of them in the Cordillera Administrative Region—to set up Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Offices, leaving them unprepared  to ensure the welfare of communities when disaster strikes.

As for documentary requirements, 112 LGUs—22 of them in Bicol Region—failed to prepare or submit their annual LDRRMF Investment Plans that would guide the use of the funds. Two hundred seventy-eight (278) LGUs—37 of them in Eastern Visayas—were found not to have complied with CoA Circular No. 2012-002, which required a report on the source and use of the DRRM funds.

No disaster management offices

State auditors also reported that of the DND’s P572.9 million available funds for DRRM services, only P236.31 million was utilized. Of that amount, P128.63 million was actually paid and released by the end of 2015, with the rest still pending approval of the purchase orders, contracts and delivery of items.

The CoA observed that the use of P73.93 million in Quick Response Funds (QRF) was not in accordance with its purpose as a standby fund for immediate action during calamities.

DND’s misused funds

The DND used the funds for rehabilitation and repair of its offices and buildings, a function that actually falls with the Department of Public Works and Highways. The transactions included the construction of Office of Civil Defense regional facilities in Cagayan Valley and Zamboanga Peninsula, as well as the repair of various Armed Forces of the Philippines buildings.

The CoA also said the DND should have withheld the release of P120.27 million to its various implementing agencies, because they still had pending unliquidated fund transfers totaling P456.12 million from 2008 to 2014.

It recommended that DND “refrain from granting additional fund transfers to implementing agencies with outstanding balances and to closely monitor the liquidation of fund transfers.”

The same report also flagged the delays in the distribution of fishing gear and boats to fisherfolk affected by Typhoon Yolanda, due to delayed procurement, limited manpower and transportation, and the poor quality of motorized bancas that had to be rejected by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

Up to 55.73% of the fishing equipment procured by BFAR’s regional offices in Calabarzon, Bicol Region, Western Visayas, and Soccsksargen went undistributed as of reporting.

Late distribution

The CoA also flagged the low utilization of funds amounting to P594.98 million, bulk of which is attributed to the late receipt of the Local Water Utilities Administration of P527.08 million meant to be distributed to water districts.

Up to P61.48 million under the Department of Health was also used slowly because of the failure to identify disaster mitigation activities. Typhoon Glenda assistance amounting to P4.68 million under BFAR had yet to be spent by the end of 2015 because of slow procurement processes and late compliance with documentary requirements.

The CoA also flagged the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s failure to set up a sound relief goods inventory system.

This led to the spoilage of an estimated P11.896-million worth of sardines purchased in October 2014 for Albay residents evacuated when Mayon Volcano became restive in late 2014. The sardines were not delivered to the province due to congestion at the warehouse and the regional director’s confirmation that the stock was enough.

In view of this, the CoA recommended that the DSWD direct its Property Management Division to set up guidelines for unwanted items, monitor the movement of goods, and investigate alleged tampering of the expiry dates.

This CoA report, which covered the last full year of the Aquino administration, was submitted on Jan. 10 to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, the concurrent chair of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.  SFM

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