By Ben Rosario
Tens of millions of pesos in donations received on behalf of the victims of super-typhoon “Yolanda” in 2013 and the Marawi City siege in 2017 have remained untouched in the custody of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD).
This was revealed in the recently released 2018 OCD annual audit report prepared by the Commission on Audit (COA).
“The poor utilization of the donated funds defeated the purpose of donation and that the good intention of the donors for human consideration was not fully served,” COA lamented after conducting the fund audit.
The OCD is the implementing arm of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. It is tasked to administer a comprehensive national civil defense and Disaster Risk Reduction and Management program.
State auditors disclosed that OCD received P135,391,701.96 in donations for victims of super-typhoon Yolanda.
Of the total amount, only P94,415,000 or 69.73 percent was spent, leaving a balance of P40.97 million still untouched.
According to COA, the OCD received the money from a number of foreign and local donors, adding that the agency has not received any fund from the Department of Budget Management or any other government agencies.
“Donations received for victims of Marawi siege amounted to P36,920,725.00 as of December 31, 2018, of which only P10,000 was actually utilized, leaving a balance of P36,910,725.00,” the audit report revealed.
Similar to the Yolanda donations, the Marawi funds came from foreign and local donors who wanted to extend financial assistance to Filipinos who were left homeless and to families of civilians slain in the siege stated by ISIS terrorists two years ago.
The biggest donor is India whose embassy in the Philippines sent P25.57 million. The Embassy of Thailand and the provincial government of Bulacan donated P5.092 million and P4 million,m respectively, at the height of the fighting in 2017.
Jaime Dimson and his wife, a couple from Lubao, Pampanga, drew a P1 million check for the Marawi victims also in 2017.
According to COA, out of the total financial assistance given by various donors, only P10,000 was spent to help the family of a fatality in Marawi City.
“Clearly, the donations were not utilized to provide for the much needed support of the Marawi siege victims,” COA stated.
“The poor utilization of the donated funds defeated the purpose of donation and that the good intention of the donors for human consideration was not fully served,” the audit agency added.
State auditors pointed to the submission of “very burdensome” documentary requirements as one reasons for the low utilization of the fund. It also noted that all claims may only be granted within a year from the time of the occurrence of the disaster or calamity.
Audit examiners explained that the release of donated funds is governed by NCC Memorandum Order No. 13.
As provided by MO No. 13, donations may be utilized for payment of financial assitance to victims of calamities.
The directive allows the grant of P10,000 to the family of a deceased victim while P5,000 for the injured.
The OCD, according to COA, relied only on donations to help victims of the Marawi siege. The agency did not have any appropriated fund for the Marawi Recovery, Rehabilitation, and Reconstruction Program. Neither die it receive any funding for the purpose from the DBM.