Govt accused of ‘misusing’ rehab funds

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Amilitant lawmaker over the weekend lambasted the government for its supposed lack of accountability for funds set for the rehabilitation of areas devastated by Typhoon Yolanda, alleging that that the budget is being “misused”.

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“Where did the money go? The lack of transparency and accountability is not only dismaying but also embarrassing to the international community,” Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan of Gabriela told The Manila Times when asked if there was a problem disbursing the budget allocated for the rehabilitation.

Earlier reports showed that thousands of students in Tacloban City will hold classes in tents or damaged school buildings because several schools in the city have yet to be repaired.

Ilagan explained that there are enough funds coming from abroad and the national government for the rehabilitation of the cited areas. The problem, she cited, is in the utilization and prioritization of the budget.

“[Government] agencies have a practice of not using funds or not maximizing these for intended programs to have ‘savings’,” Ilagan said.

“These ‘savings’ or unused funds are withheld to be spent at the end of the year on bonuses, seminars, or trips for agency officials,” she added.

The government earlier put up the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAiTH) website which tracks donations from foreign governments or multilateral organizations and private individuals or groups coursed through government agencies.

According to FAiTH, the government has received P15 billion of the pledged P34 billion ($763 million) for rehabilitation efforts.

Meanwhile, Deputy Majority Floor Leader Rep. Sherwin Tunga of the Citizen’s Battle Against Corruption party-list suggested, “The government should post all funds for Yolanda, as contained in the General Appropriations Act and all foreign donations, and details how it was spent.”

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