THE abysmal utilization of donated funds for victims of calamities shows the government’s callousness, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Monday following reports that more than P300 million in donations remain untapped.
The senator expressed dismay over the government’s “insensitivity” to the plight of disaster victims as well as its failure to properly use the calamity funds and donations intended for families hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda and other calamities.
Marcos called on the government to use the idle funds to provide permanent shelter to families rendered homeless by typhoons and other calamities.
The senator made the call in response to a report by the Commission on Audit (COA) that P385 million in donations coursed through the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) under the Department of National Defense (DND) remained unused as of 2014.
The senator particularly cited the unused donations for victims of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) amounting to P136,996,859.29 of which only P38 million was used.
“It has been two years since typhoon Yolanda devastated Tacloban and other nearby areas but many of the survivors are still complaining that they have yet to get permanent shelters that the government promised for them,” the senator said.
Marcos, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Works, conducted an investigation into the alleged sub-standard bunk houses constructed as temporary shelters for Yolanda survivors.
A group of Yolanda survivors cited data from the National Housing Authority, which showed that only 534 out of the 13,801 targeted permanent houses have been built by the government as of September this year.
In a separate hearing conducted by the Senate committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement chaired by Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito last month, the panel learned that of the 205,128 houses to be built by July 2016, only 16,000 have been constructed.
Marcos said the government could have used the idle funds to provide immediate assistance and relief to victims of calamities.
“This smacks of not only insensitivity to the plight of the disaster survivors but also negligence of duty,” he added.
Marcos vowed to bring up the issue of the unused calamity funds during the forthcoming 2016 budget deliberations in the Senate to ensure that the funds are tapped for their intended purpose.
The Senate resumes its sessions today after a month-long legislative break.
The Anakpawis party-list also condemned the Aquino administration for its failure to use the donations to help typhoon victims.
“The rage of typhoon victims is indescribable over the Aquino government’s criminal negligence, many have died, starved, endured living in tents, make-shift camps, went bankrupt and lost their farms and other hardships, but we are to discover that the donations supposed to help them are hoarded. The Aquino government should be held responsible for this mercilessness,” Rep. Fernando Hicap of Anakpawis said.
“Even the donations for the victims of typhoon Ondoy-Pepeng, Pablo and Yolanda were not distributed to the victims. The government even had the stomach to file charges against typhoon Pablo victims when they organized to claim the relief from the DSWD [Department of Social Welfare and Development] office in Davao, and the Emergency Shelter Assistance for typhoon Yolanda victims, DSWD had the audacity of claiming distribution would be soon fully accomplished when two years had passed,” Hicap said.
“Let us all condemn this criminal negligence, this is irrefutable proof that Aquino is a big fraud when he claimed concern of calamity victims, the people must continue to hold him accountable, especially when he leaves his post as president,” he added.