Probe ‘Yolanda’ aid, Miriam asks Senate

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SENATOR Miram Defensor-Santiago on Friday called on her colleagues to investigate the hundreds of millions in donations that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) failed to deploy for victims of the 2013 super Typhoon Yolanda.

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Santiago said she will file a resolution on Monday based on a recently released Commission on Audit (COA) report showing that almost half a billion pesos in donations for the typhoon victims were either kept in bank accounts or used to buy relief goods that were never distributed.

“The purpose of donations is defeated if funds sit idly in government bank accounts. The DSWD is not only denying disaster victims of much-needed assistance, they are also misusing money from donors and taxpayers,” she pointed out.

COA noted that P382.072 million in local and foreign donations for Yolanda victims remained in DSWD bank accounts by the end of 2014.

The agency also had P141.084 million worth of undistributed and expired or near-expiry food packs.

Santiago agreed with the COA that the DSWD was remiss in accepting hundreds of millions in donations without increasing its absorptive capacity, particularly its warehousing facilities, personnel, available stocks, shelf life and needs of the victims.

The senator also wants the DSWD probed for failing to hit its target of providing emergency shelter assistance to 468,732 homeless beneficiaries.

COA claimed that the agency only provided shelter to 142,348 victims, spending P3 billion in the process.

Santiago also questioned gaps in implementation of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, highlighting COA findings that some P312 million in 4Ps cash grants were unclaimed from the Land Bank of the Philippines.

“Clearly, there is something wrong about the government’s flagship anti-poverty program. They must explain the multiple entries on the list of 4Ps beneficiaries and the frequent delays in coordination and grant payments,” the senator said.

Santiago also slammed delays in the DSWD’s supplementary feeding program because of poor coordination with partner agencies.

About half of the 55,496 of the 116,637 beneficiaries of the Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens program also failed to claim their pensions.

“The government must take social welfare seriously. Those running the DSWD now seem to think they can afford to slack. Not only must social welfare programs be well thought out, they must also effectively be implemented,” the senator said.

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1 Comment

  1. vagoneto rieles on

    Rather than seeing their exalted positions as a ‘means to an end’, most government officials treat these assignments as the ‘end’ in and of itself. The object of their jobs.. that of tending to the citizens’ needs.. is pushed to the back burner as these ‘idiots’ strut and preen, in celebration of their ‘arrival’. In the case of the DSWD’s cavalier, (indifferent) handling of the ‘Yolanda Aid’, their negligence is flat-out criminal.