Mar blamed for aid fiasco
THE Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines scored on Wednesday Liberal Party standard bearer Manuel Roxas II for failing to implement 65.5 percent of disaster risk reduction management projects, worth P42 billion, which could have helped victims of Typhoon “Yolanda’’ in 2013.
On the other hand, House Independent Bloc leader Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez has lamented the sorry state of Yolanda survivors who are still languishing in tent cities and bunkhouses for almost two years now.
“The people complained that that they haven’t seen adequate and effective assistance from the government and even local governments through the DILG so it may also be a way to assess a candidate’s performance on how he addresses and accomplishes a program,” said Fr. Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of CBCP’s National Secretariat for Social Action over Radio Veritas.
The Commission on Audit said in its 2013 report that Roxas, as Secretary of the Interior and Local Governments failed “to release P65.5 percent of the P76 million 2013 DRRM fund allotment, or P42.928,044.12, resulting in a low level preparedness of local government units for disaster preparedness.”
The audit agency also reported that “donations amounting to P10 million in 2012 were supposed to be used for the relief, recovery and rehabilitation efforts for the victims of Typhoon “Pablo’’ and other typhoons but have not been used as of Dec. 31, 2013.”
Gariguez warned the public that the P42 billion may be used by politicians under the Liberal Party for the 2016 elections.
“This is a major shortcoming on the part of the DILG, based on that data. It is a shortcoming that should be acknowledged. It is important to help and it is frightening to think that the unused money could be used for the elections,” Gariguez said.
Romualdez, on the other hand, blasted the government for the slow pace of building more than 200,000 housing units in communities devastated by super typhoon despite the availability of approved funds to help millions of people who were left homeless.
“It is saddening because we have long been saying the rehabilitation for Yolanda victims is too slow. I can’t understand why that is so [although] there are donations sitting in the bank, in the savings account of the Department of Social Welfare and Development,” Romualdez said in an interview on dzXL.
The National Housing Authority targeted 205,128 housing units in six regions, but only 16,544 houses had been completed as of Sept. 15. Another 87,405 additional units will be constructed once the Department of Budget and Management released P25.6 billion for next year.
“At first we though it was just politics. But it now appears that they really don’t know what to do. It’s sad that so many still live in temporary bunkhouses. They were supposed to stay ther for only three months,” said Romualdez.
The Leyte lawmaker also noted the spoiled relief goods that were not distributed among Yolanda victims.
Romualdez expressed apprehension over the delay of the government’s implementation of projects and rehabilitating the region, which may cause negative impression among donors, from local or international groups.
Due to these delays, Romualdez is working hard for his bill that seeks to create the Department of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management whose sole duty is to help victims of disasters and calamities.
House Bill No. 3486 was filed in December 2013 barely a month after the devastation of Yolanda in the country, also aims to drastically reduce, if not totally eliminate, the bureaucratic red tape.