THE disaster and relief operations launched after Super Typhoon Yolanda battered Central Visayas last year was “crazy and regrettable,” according to the Commission on Audit (COA).
The agency audited the relief operations in typhoon-ravaged areas but it admitted that it was difficult to track down the amount of money and goods donated.
“There was no gate keeper, people were just going to the ground, and organizations here and there are setting up just anywhere,” COA Chairman Grace Pulido Tan told members of the Senate committee on Finance on Monday.
Tan said nobody was in charge and no one carried out a “coherent coordination” during the first few weeks after the disaster.
But the COA chief admitted that the chaotic situation was understandable considering the scale of the disaster.
“It’s crazy and I think it’s regrettable but again it is understandable and forgivable because there was really chaos at that time,” Tan noted.
“It was an emergency, a huge catastrophe. Everybody was at a loss so that’s fine, but we have to bring the findings out,” she added.
Another matter highlighted in the interim report, which COA intends to release soon is the amount of donations listed in the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAiTH). According to Tan, not all donations recorded in FAiTH went to the government.
The COA head explained that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) suggested two beneficiaries—the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC).
Based on FaiTH’s report (www.gov.ph/faith), the government as of February 12, received $13,337,478 cash donations or P648,176,187.53 based on the foreign exchange of $1= P45.012.
The total foreign aid cash and non-cash pledged was $551,913,473 or P24,843,729,246.68.
Tan said not all donations listed in FAITH were in cash.
“For example there is an item there which says one plane load of these and that, I mean we don’t even know what was inside the plane,” she said.
Tan said they decided to focus their audit on systems and procedures and not on financials because it is difficult to track the donations.
Even the local government units who are already on the ground can’t say who helped them or where the donated goods came from, she said.