Was Super Typhoon Yolanda really to blame for the tragedy it brought to Leyte last year or did local officials play a big part in the disaster?
This question was raised after the Commission on Audit (COA) found that four local government units (LGUs) in Leyte wasted no less than P11 million of their Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (LDRRMF) a year before the strongest typhoon of 2013 hit them.
The recently released COA report revealed that the towns of Pastrana, Burauen, Carigara and Dagami spent P8 million allotted for disaster management on various activities—except for anti-disaster measures. This, COA said, is a clear violation of the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act since the amount should have been used on risk management trainings, the purchase of rescue equipment and supplies, and the construction of evacuation centers and related facilities.
While Pastrana spent P2.12 million of the P8.6 million it received on disaster training seminars in Puerto Princesa, Tagaytay and Baguio City, COA said this violates a Department of Interior and Local Government memo that prohibits local officials from conducting or attending workshops, trainings and similar activities outside their geographical localities. To make matters worse, P1.16 million of the P2.12 million wasn’t liquidated.
Of its P4.8 million anti-disaster fund, Burauen spent only P300,000 or 6 percent. However, it failed to document this while the remaining P4.5 million remains unliquidated since it wasn’t put into a trust fund exclusively for disaster-related use as required by the law.
Carigara is no better, spending P1.562 million of its local anti-disaster fund for the repair of a public market and acquisition of a digital photocopier for the mayor’s office.
Meanwhile, the town of Daga–mi only spent a measly P96,682 out of its P2.98 million anti-disaster fund. It remains unknown how the said money was spent while the rest of the amount went to the general fund when it should have been put under a trust fund.
“The purpose for the appropriation of the LDRRMF was not achieved, thus responsiveness to disaster risk management to key areas and activities enumerated . . . may not have been properly addressed which could be disadvantageous to the constituents,” the COA report concluded.