Account for ‘Yolanda’ fund, Church asks govt

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THE Catholic Church  is questioning how the Aquino administration spent the P199- billion  fund for  rehabilitation and rebuilding of  areas devastated by  super typhoon Yolanda in 2013.

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In a statement on Friday, the head of Caritas Philippines, Archbishop Rolando Tirona,  said the people deserve an explanation on  how the government used the multi-billion fund.

“It’s now up to them to explain,” Tirona added. “ It’s just sad that the help from those who are supposed to lead the program is so slow.”

Tirona noted how politics continues to hamper the speed of the government’s rehabilitation programs and how some politicians use Yolanda survivors to promote themselves.

“You [politicians]don’t have to advertise your names for government projects,” he said.
Earlier, NASSA/Caritas executive secretary Fr. Edwin Gariguez  expressed alarm on  possible use of the Yolanda fund in next year’s elections.

He cited recent studies that showed the government’s prolonged delays in fund releases under its Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan (CRRP) for the super typhoon.
Data from a recent study by NASSA/Caritas Philippines, Development & Peace and other advocacy groups showed that only P73.51 billion or 41.61 percent of the total P170-billion funding requirements had been released as of March 2015.

The study further showed that only P2.4 billion of the targeted P26 billion for social services was funded in 2014.

This is apart from the P13.6 billion released for resettlement of the required P75 billion, P2.4 billion of the P26 billion for target social services, P9.8 billion of the P33 billion  for livelihood and P21.5 billion of the P35 billion for infrastructure.

A report from the Department of Budget and Management apparently showed that the budget for  Yolanda reconstruction is shared with other rehabilitation efforts for other calamities such as the Bohol earthquake.

“This is another cause for concern. Why do they have to mix up the funds for the rehabilitation efforts of different calamities? This is a clear disregard of basic accounting principles. Again, this clearly shows the government’s ‘super inefficiency,’” Gariguez pointed out.

The priest also raised alarm over the indebtedness incurred by the government as the “financial requirements of the rehabilitation have become the government’s pretext in accessing loan obligations with multilateral financial institutions.”

The government has incurred a total of P126.2-billion debt.

As of 2014, it had completed only 2,100 houses for typhoon victims, a number way below the targeted 205,128.

NASSA/Caritas Philippines is  heading the Catholic Church’s largest three-year rehabilitation program for Yolanda survivors called REACHPhilippines that amounts to P816.96 million in the first year alone of program implementation.

In 2014, it was able to construct 3,117 houses for typhoon survivors of the nine worst-hit provinces.

For the second year, it will continue to build more houses and provide various interventions, which NASSA/Caritas Philippines would be announcing this week.

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