THE Office of Civil Defense (OCD) has not utilized hundreds of millions of pesos in donations meant to help victims of disasters, the Commission on Audit (COA) found.
The discovery prompted auditors to call on the OCD to utilize the funds in a timely manner.
State auditors said that only P81.068 million of the P466.018 million in local and foreign donations for calamity victims since 2008 had been used.
“Utilization of the donations from foreign and local donors in the total amount of P81,068,471.49 was low, depriving the calamity victims of the much needed assistance to alleviate their difficulties. Moreover, the unutilized balances were not remitted to the Bureau of the Treasury contrary to Section IV.13 of COA Circular No. 2014-002 dated April 15, 2014,” the auditors said in a 2014 audit report.
The report said the Trust Liabilities – Disaster Risk Management Fund (TL-DRMF) account had a balance of P414 million in 2014.
“[T]here were remaining funds of P384,950,260.65 representing the balance of the donated funds of P466,018,732.14 (utilization rate of only 17.39 percent) which were not utilized for more than one year since the occurrence of the disaster, hence should have already been remitted to the Bureau of the Treasury pursuant to Section IV.13 of COA Circular No. 2014-002 dated April 15, 2014,” the auditors said.
Donations for Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013 formed the largest amount — P136,996,859.29. However, only P38 million was used, thus leaving a balance of P98 million.
The COA report said the disaster fund consist of donations given for victims of Typhoon “Frank” in 2008; flash floods in Cagayan de Oro, Gingoog, and Iligan in 2009; storms “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” in 2009; Storm “Sendong” in 2011; Typhoon “Pedring” and “Quiel” in 2011; Typhoon “Pablo” in 2012; Habagat in 2012; Typhoon Maring in 2013; the Zamboanga conflict in 2013; the Bohol earthquake in 2013 and Typhoon Yolanda.
“The low rate of utilization of the donated fund for payment of financial assistance was due to the absence of the rulings or guidelines on its usage. We noted that it takes time before calamity victims are extended the necessary assistance due to the claimant’s long period of compliance with the documentary requirements,” the auditors said.
Of the P27.8 million donations transferred to LGUs, the auditors noted that only the funds given to the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (PDCC) in Southern Leyte were used.
COA reminded the OCD to “see to it that donations are utilized for the intended purpose in a timely manner and facilitate the early determination of the actual number of victims and their immediate needs and the extent of damage for the purpose of ensuring the improvement of their living conditions.”
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, through the OCD, is authorized to receive donations in cash and in kind from various government agencies and other sources. The cash donations form part of the calamity funds and are used for relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction of devastated areas.