Defense dep’t denies COA findings it misused disaster funds
The Department of National Defense (DND) on Monday took exception to the allegation of the Commission of Audit (COA) that it misused funds dedicated to disaster risk reduction and relief management (DRRM) in 2015.
The COA report on the disaster fund audit, which was transmitted to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Jan. 10, showed that the DND and 22 local governments were the biggest violators of the rules on the use of disaster relief funds, as they failed to allocate at least P124.95 million of their funds for the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund.
Section 21 of the DRRM Act of 2010 requires 5 percent of revenue be set aside for disaster preparedness and mitigation.
The COA report covered the period when the DND was headed by Voltaire Gazmin.
Lorenzana said the COA report contained observations and findings of past audits, which the DND had already replied to and clarified.
For the repair or reconstruction of facilities that the COA said were not in accordance with the purposes of the Quick Reaction Fund (QRF), Lorenzana maintained that these were made to ensure that the facilities and equipment used by High Availability Disaster Response (HADR) personnel affected by calamities may be normalized as quickly as possible.
He said the construction and repair of Armed Forces of the Philippines camps and facilities were made to deal with the damage sustained during calamities, among them Typhoons “Santi” (international name: Nari), “Glenda” (Rammasun), and “Yolanda” (Haiyan).
“It was necessary that certain offices and facilities of the AFP be immediately rehabilitated or repaired so as not to hamper their response to HADR missions,” Lorenzana said.
As to the release of QRF to various implementing agencies with unliquidated fund transfers, Lorenzana said the DND saw the need to urgently transfer funds given the extraordinary circumstances at that time.
“There was a need to strike a balance between policy and urgency of requirements in order to restore public service and provide support to damaged facilities in disaster-affected areas,” Lorenzana said.