COA goes after DND for P752-M unliquidated quick response fund
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) continues to go after the Department of National Defense (DND) for failing to liquidate P752 million (about $16 million)* in Quick Response Fund (QRF) released to the Office of Civil Defense and the major services of the military.
The QRF is meant to fund immediate assistance to areas stricken by calamities. It became controversial after COA's revelation that it was not used properly in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), one of the world's strongest typhoons that killed over 6,000 people.
The newly released 2014 COA report shows that only a fraction of the total amount was released in 2014 – P166.314 million – which should not have been approved because of the failure of the various units to liquidate expenses in the previous years.
The DND was only able to liquidate P268.624 million of the total P854.422 million, which the COA cited as questionable in its 2013 report.
The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) accounted for the biggest bulk of unliquidated funds. In 2014 alone, it received the biggest chunk of the QRF amounting to P88.665 million, which has yet to be liquidated:
- Office of Civil Defense – P386.2 million
- Philippine Army – P135.5 million
- Philippine Navy – P99.906 million
- Philippine Air Force – P71.6 million
- AFP Finance Center with P54.618 million
- Philippine Military Academy – P1.272 million
A bulk of these releases from the QRF remain untouched because the projects they were supposed to fund remained unimplemented, the COA also found out.
“In the Philippine Army, the auditor thereat noted the slow utilization of QRF which caused delay in the implementation of the intended programs/projects. The PA made fund transfers to PITC...for the procurement of medical equipment that remained undelivered,” the COA said.
The Philippine Air Force has kept P53.87 million of QRF "idle" despite a directive from the defense secretary to fast track the implementation of projects, such as the already delayed procurement of “team and individual equipment for DRTU (Disaster Readiness Training Units)." PAF has yet to explain this.
COA aso found questioanable uses of the QRF. It cited how the Philippine Navy allocated a total of P95.233 million for the procurement of “materials and equipment” for disaster preparedness training programs. COA said this was contrary to the provisions of RA 10121 or the Philippine Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Act of 2010.
COA said the QRF should be used solely as standby fund for relief and recovery programs.
“QRF are built-in in the budgets of various agencies to enable them to immediately assist areas/victims stricken by catastrophes and crises and ensure immediate action during calamities,” the report said.
The COA also found questionable uses of the QRF in 2014:
- The AFP-Finance Center allocated its share for “petroleum, oil and lubricant (POL)”
- The navy used it for the repair of concrete pier in Caballo Island
- The OCD allocated its QRF to “construction of various RDRRMCs” (Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils)
- The PMA utilized the funds for “acquisition of collapsed structure search and rescue equipment”
“The purposes for which the fund were released were not in accordance with the intendment of the QRF to serve as a standby fund to address relief and recovery programs,” the COA said. – Rappler.com
*US$1 = P47.13