‘Aquino’s disaster response awful’

House Independent Bloc leader Rep. Martin Romualdez of Leyte on Thursday denounced the Aquino administration’s “awful standard” in disasters’ response after hundreds of millions of donated funds for the victims of super Typhoon “Yolanda” and for its anti-poverty program were allegedly kept idle in bank accounts of the government.

Romualdez, whose district covers the Yolanda hardest-hit Tacloban City, urged House leadership led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. to allow a full-blown congressional probe into unaccounted Yolanda funds.

Romualdez said concerned government officials, headed by Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, should explain to Congress the report of the Commission on Audit on unutilized funds when so many Yolanda victims are still having hard time coping with the disaster.

“I don’t think it’s isolated to our area [Tacloban City]. I don’t like to think that [we are being deprived of government resources being a Romualdez].  At the end of the day, that seems to be the norm so it’s quite disturbing,” Romualdez pointed out, stressing that even allies of the government in Eastern Samar were not given enough assistance to recover from equally-strong typhoons Ruby and Hagupit.

Romualdez stressed the need for Congress to conduct a congressional probe into the status and disbursements of both local and foreign donations, as well as national government assistance, to victims of super typhoon Yolanda.

The CoA report said that P382.072 million in local and foreign donations for Yolanda victims remained in the Department of Social Welfare and Development bank accounts by the end of 2014.  

It also had P141.084 million worth of undistributed and expired or near-expiry food packs, according to the report.

The  DSWD allegedly failed to hit its target of providing emergency shelter assistance to 468,732 homeless beneficiaries. This prompted Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago  to demand  an investigation on  the  Conditional Cash Transfer, the government’s anti-poverty program, after the funding for 2016 will reach P108.8 billion, or P2 billion more than its 2014 budget.

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