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DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) denied any involvement in alleged anomalies in rehabilitation projects in typhoon-stricken Davao Oriental.
DSWD-Region 11 is facing administrative and criminal complaints before the Office of Ombudsman over alleged payroll padding and overpricing in the construction of bunkhouses for typhoon “Pablo” victims in Compostela Valley.
In a statement on Monday, February 18, the agency assured the public that “all transactions and activities of the regional office on relief and rehabilitation efforts are supported by documents submitted to the Commission on Audit for post audit.”
Nevertheless, it promised to hold officials and employees accountable if the allegations were proven.
“The DSWD management will deal with these accordingly upholding the tenets of full accountability and transparency,” it said.
The statement came after two workers in bunkhouses DSWD built in Compostela town claimed they were paid less than what was indicated in the agency’s job order form.
Fifty-year-old Romulo Serot said he worked for a day as carpenter in the project, while his son, Remly, worked for 3 days as laborer.
Romulo received P300 for his day’s work while Remly received P600.
However, a copy of the DSWD job order form showed both Romulo and Remly were paid P350 per day for 12 days.
Both denied signing the document. Remly said he signed a logbook but not the form.
DSWD explained it hired a contractor for the construction of the bunkhouses through a “pakyaw or package deal.”
It said it allocated P70,000 labor cost per bunkhouse and the contractor was the one who paid his team of 10 or more workers.
“Members of the pakyaw group are not under nor paid directly by DSWD but by their contractor. Once the contract is completed, the DSWD will pay the contractor the full amount of P70,000, and the contractor will be responsible for payment of his workers,” DSWD said.
The agency also said no payroll padding could have happened because the document the Serots signed was not a payroll, but a job order.
“No payroll has been tampered, faked or padded,” the agency noted. It did not comment on the Serots’ supposed job order form.
Arnold Sembrano, the contractor who hired the Serots, confirmed that he paid Romulo P300 for his day’s work, and Remly, P200 per day for 3 days.
Sembrano admitted he failed to erase the names of the two in the list of workers, which explains why the document indicated they were paid for 12 days.
“I would have deleted their names in the job order form but because of my haste to submit the job order form which was already being asked by the DSWD, I failed to erase their names,” Sembrano explained.
He added payments that were approved for the Serots were given to the laborers who replaced them.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Southern Mindanao slammed DSWD, saying its statement did not make any sense.
“Who then signed the job order for Romulo and Remly? The father and son said they have not seen the form before meaning someone from DSWD signed it for them,” said Bayan-SMR secretary general Sheena Duazo.
Duazo said the laborers hired were underpaid and DSWD must be held accountable for letting this happen.
“Even though they hired contractors they should still monitor it. DSWD made the report and justified the funds and they presented documents that are forged. They are part of the crime,” Duazo said.
DSWD reported it distributed P474,022,690.00 worth of relief goods to 233,354 families and released P24,633,000.00 to fund the cash-for-work program.
But Barug Katawhan, an organization of typhoon victims, said the figures are “deceiving” and challenged the national government to check the real situation on the ground.
“Yes, the funds may have beeen released but are they sure that these were able to reach the proper persons and families?” said the group's leader, Karlos Trangia.
Trangia said DSWD could not change the reality that people in typhoon-affected areas are still suffering.
Barug Katawhan urged DSWD employees to rise up and expose alleged irregularities in the agency. – Rappler.com