Press Release
November 6, 2015


Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero said the inability of government agencies to disburse cash donations intended for calamity and disaster relief efforts is a disservice to survivors and may harm the country's credibility before the international community.

"The government is courting a credibility crisis with its 'teka-teka' approach to cash donations, which should have been used immediately to finance the relief and rehabilitation of victims of calamities and disasters," Escudero said.

Escudero was reacting to the findings of the Commission on Audit (COA) that more than P364 million in local and foreign donations for victims of several typhoons and an earthquake during the last six years, are sitting in the bank account of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), the implementing arm of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

"Aside from doing gross disservice to victims of typhoon and other disasters, the government is also trying to drive away foreign and local donors who are more than willing to help during times of crisis," Escudero said.

In its latest report, the COA said that out of the P466.019 million in donations for various calamities since 2008, only P81.068 million was spent by the OCD as of December 2014 for a "very low" utilization rate of only 17.39 percent.

According to COA, the biggest chunk of donations was the P137 million received from government agencies and other sources after Supertyphoon "Yolanda" hit the country in 2013.

Out of the Yolanda contributions, the ODA has released only P38.755 million as of the end of 2014, leaving P98.24 million untouched and deposited in a trust account with the Development Bank of the Philippines.

"It is unfortunate that while more than P364 million are stashed in OCD's bank account, there are still a lot of Yolanda victims who complain of inadequate support from the government two years since the destructive storm hit the Visayas," said Escudero, who, on October 22 visited the cities of Ormoc and Tacloban, the worst-hit during Yolanda.

"Thousands of Yolanda survivors are still living in bunkhouses without power and water. Obviously, they were unable to avail of the government's housing aid," Escudero said.

He also cited the Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA), a cash assistance meant to immediately assist families whose houses were partially or totally damaged by the super typhoon, and which implementation was marred by allegations of anomaly. Its distribution was discontinued on September 30 by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

It was not the first time the COA pointed to the glaring mishandling of foreign and local cash donations for typhoon victims.

Last month, the COA said some P382 million in local and foreign cash donations for Yolanda victims were deposited in the bank accounts of the DSWD. The amount was about one-third of the P1.151 billion that the agency received from November 2013 to December 2014.

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