Senate quiz of Yolanda aid sought
SENATOR Miriam Defensor Santiago on Friday asked the Senate to investigate the Department of Social Welfare and Development for its failure to release millions of pesos in donations to the victims of Super Typhoon “Yolanda.”
She said the department had also failed to hit its target of providing shelters to the 468,732 people left homeless by the typhoon.
Yolanda killed 7,000 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless when it hit the central Philippines on Nov. 8, 2013.
Santiago said she will file a resolution Monday based on the recently released Commission on Audit report showing that almost P500 million in donations to the typhoon victims were either being kept in bank accounts or used to buy relief that were never distributed.
“The purpose of donations is defeated if funds sit idly in government bank accounts,” Santiago said.
“The DSWD is not only denying disaster victims of much-needed assistance. They are also misusing money from donors and taxpayers.”
The CoA noted that P382.072 million in local and foreign donations for the 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 almost-expired food packs.
Santiago agreed with the commission that the welfare department was remiss in accepting hundreds of millions of pesos in donations without increasing its absorptive capacity, particularly its warehousing facilities, personnel, available stocks, shelf life and the needs of the victims.
She also questioned the gaps in the implementation of the government’s dole program, highlighting the commission’s findings that some P312 million in cash grants were still to be claimed from the Land Bank of the Philippines.
“Clearly, there is something wrong about the government’s flagship anti-poverty program,” Santiago said.
“They must explain the multiple entries on the list of beneficiaries and the frequent delays in coordination and grant payments.”
Santiago also slammed the delays in the department’s supplementary feeding program because of poor coordination with partner agencies.
About half or 55,496 of the 116,637 beneficiaries of the Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens program also failed to claim their pensions, she said.
“The government must take social welfare seriously. Those running the DSWD now seem to think they can afford to slack,” Santiago said.