• PNoy hit over ‘misuse’ of Yolanda funds

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    ON the eve of his last State of the Nation Address (SONA), the Catholic Church’s social action arm, Nassa/Caritas, and several other advocacy groups have demanded from President Benigno Aquino 3rd an accounting of the billions of pesos in funds intended for rehabilitation of super Typhoon Yolanda victims.

    The groups on Sunday also expressed disappointment with “sluggish implementation” of Yolanda reconstruction and rehabilitation programs.

    They cited a study entitled “Portrait of the Reconstruction Initiatives in the Areas Affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda,” which showed that “the delivery of reconstruction assistance continued to be riddled with infirmities, irregularities and reported misuse of public funds and people’s money…”

    The groups also raised concerns about the government’s P126.2-billion debt to multilateral institutions in order to meet financial requirements of the rehabilitation.

    “… this boils down to poor participation and lack of consultation with the people. Poor transparency and lack of accountability–no investigation of abuse and misuse of funds and Yolanda relief assistance,” they said, citing data from a study initiated by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace and Nassa/Caritas Philippines, together with other organizations involved in programs for Yolanda survivors.

    The groups pointed out that more than a year and a half after the super typhoon struck, only 2,100 houses were built by the end of 2014, way below the needed 205,128 shelters.

    They expressed alarm over long delays in fund releases.

    Also citing reports, the groups said only P2.4 billion of the targeted P26 billion for social services was funded in 2014.

    The amount, they added, was apart from the P13.6 billion released for resettlement of the required P75 billion, P2.4 billion of the P26 billion for target social services, P9.8 billion of the P33 billion funds for livelihood and P21.5 billion of the P35 billion budget for infrastructure.

    “No less than the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery itself admitted [that]the delays in the implementation of target rehabilitation projects were a cause for concern,” the groups said in their report.

    They disclosed the government’s alleged misuse and misappropriation of Yolanda funds, citing as examples the sub-standard temporary shelters in Tacloban City, Leyte, and the mangrove reforestation in Samar and Leyte.

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