This has reference to the editorial “The straight-path lie” published in your newspaper on Sept. 28 which partly tackled the 2014 audit report of the Commission on Audit on the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s handling of the cash donations for Typhoon “Yolanda” victims and the alleged expired relief goods.
We at the department would like to share with you our responses to the issues which were accepted by COA during the exit conference in July. These responses were also included in their final report that was uploaded on their Web site but which had been missed out in the editorial.
On the issue that cash donations remained in the bank, please be informed that P73 billion foreign aid was pledged to the country of which P45 billion were in cash and P28 billion were non-cash. However, the Philippines only received P17 billion, of which PI.202 billion were in cash and 1.269 billion in non-cash were given to the government.
The remaining P14 billion went to non-government organizations and multilateral organizations, among others. The DSWD received Pl.1 billion both in local and foreign currency. As of Sept. 14, DSWD had already disbursed 83.20 percent of the donations it had received. The amount went to transitional shelter program, cash for work, ready-to-eat food items and medicines, demurrage fees, civil registry documents, supplies for children, and support to operations, among others. The remaining 16.80 percent is already allocated based on a work and financial plan to include projects such as the supplementary feeding program and tourism project.
On the alleged rotten goods, we would also like to reiterate that there were no rotten goods in DSWD warehouses as these were all distributed to families needing assistance. The goods were not wasted and did not expire at all because these were distributed before the expiration date.
In our response to COA, we explained that the goods being referred to were those prepositioned at the National Resource Operations Center, the Department’s main warehouse located in Pasay City; intended to replenish family food packs for families affected by the eruption of Mayon Volcano in 2014. The early decampment of the Legazpi evacuation center before the original 90-day projection led to the early termination of family food packs for the evacuees. The extra family food packs were then distributed to various DSWD centers and institutions.
In compliance to the recommendation of the COA to look into the inclusion of goods that have short shelf-life, DSWD has since stopped procuring noodles for the family food packs.
The Department is currently working with the World Food Programme and the Office of Civil Defense for the construction of island cluster warehouses to serve as storage facilities as well as training centers for logistics and warehouse management. The target locations for warehouses cum training centers are Clark Air Base (for Luzon) Cebu (for Visayas), and Davao (for Mindanao).
DSWD also partnered with WFP for the setting up of a mechanized production system atthe NROC which will be inaugurated on September 30.
DSWD strongly reiterates to the media and the public that the COA audit observations do not mean that there were actual irregularities but that these were part of the government routine to provide a check-and-balance mechanism and to enhance operations.
We hope that these information have clarified the issues.
JAVIER R. JIMENEZ
Department of Social Welfare and Development