COA hits slow rehabilitation in disaster-hit areas
MANILA, Philippines – A new Commission on Audit (COA) report underscored the slow pace of rehabilitation in earthquake-hit Bohol and in areas hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).
In its audit report on the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) released December 29, 2015, COA noted the following:
- Only 12 out of 1,079 projects under the P2.413 billion Bohol Earthquake Assistance (BEA) fund were completed as of December 31, 2014. The 12 projects cost a total of P3.139 million.
- Only 138 out of 323 projects under the P1.778 billion Rehabilitation Assistance on Yolanda (RAY) - Batch 1 were completed as of December 31, 2014.
A 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Bohol on October 15, 2013, while Super Typhoon Yolanda made landfall in the Visayas on November 8 that same year, killing thousands of people and leaving a trail of destruction.
COA said that while the DILG is the implementing agency, the Bohol provincial government is to blame for delays in BEA-funded projects.
Auditors noted that the provincial officials are in charge of releasing funds to municipalities, and were also the ones who crafted the Post-Great Bohol Earthquake Rehabilitation Plan.
The timeline stated in the COA report, however, showed delays:
- May 2014 - P2.413 billion released to DILG Regional Office 7 and P72.4 million released to DILG Central Office
- August 2014 - DILG Regional Office 7 transferred entire amount to Bohol provincial government and to affected municipalities in Cebu
- December 31, 2014 - only P359.504 million released to local government units (LGUs) so far
The funds are supposed to be for the construction or repair of the following facilities:
- municipal halls - P789.05 million
- public markets - P419.39 million
- barangay facilities - P380.99 million
- water supply - P322.11 million
- bridges - P269.19 million
- civic centers - P232.61 million
Only 10 projects have been finished in Bohol, while only two have been completed in Cebu. The rest are either still in the planning phase, undergoing bidding, or still being built.
The Bohol provincial government and other LGUs, however, blamed the delays on the different checklists of documents required by the DILG and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Bohol also said it only has one engineer with a support staff to handle the various projects.
In response, the DILG said it already hired 19 engineers while the DPWH has provided 15 to help with the rehabilitation projects.
The DILG also said 53 projects were already completed as of April 10, 2015.
While auditors did not blame the DILG for delays in earthquake-hit Bohol, they said the national agency is liable for the slow progress of rehabilitation in Yolanda-hit areas.
The timeline stated in the COA report is as follows:
- December 27, 2013 - the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released P1.791 billion to DILG Central Office
- April 4, 2015 - the DILG Central Office released P1.778 billion to DILG Regional Offices and retained P13.14 million for "monitoring and evaluation expenses"
The funds are supposed to be for 14 provinces as well as 157 cities and municipalities devastated by the super typhoon.
- totally damaged facilities - P494.45 million
- partially damaged facilities - P1.297 billion
But only 51 municipal halls, 46 public markets, and 41 civic centers were completed under the DILG as of end-2014.
Auditors also said P2 billion in additional funds for RAY – Batch 2 were released on June 2, 2014, but it took the DILG more than a year to transfer the money to LGUs.
On December 31, 2015, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said only 30.3% of government projects to rebuild Yolanda-hit communities have been completed. More than a third of the projects haven't even begun yet, over two years since the deadly super typhoon struck. (READ: Yolanda rehab: Only 30% complete as 2016 begins) – Rappler.com
Editor's note: In an earlier version of this story, we placed a file photo of the Loboc Church in Bohol, which was damaged by the earthquake. The rehabilitation of heritage churches is not included in the COA report. We have since replaced the photo of the church.