P7.4-M worth of housing aid to Cagayan typhoon victims still undistributed
CAGAYAN, Philippines – Almost 3 years after Typhoon Vinta (international codename Krosa), about P7.4 million ($157.4 million)* worth of housing material aids are yet to be distributed to thousands of typhoon victims.
Data obtained by Rappler showed that the previous administration of Governor Alvaro Antonio failed to distribute 15,561 sheets of corrugated galvanized iron (GI).
The General Services Office (GSO) of the provincial capitol reported the inventory on July 19 to the new administration of Governor Manuel Mamba.
The sheets are stockpiled in the capitol gymnasium. These are separated in 7 piles:
- Pile 1 - 2,453 sheets
- Pile 2 - 2,395 sheets
- Pile 3 - 2,255 sheets
- Pile 4 - 2,190 sheets
- Pile 5 - 2,529 sheets
- Pile 6 - 2,380 sheets
- Pile 7 - 1,359 sheets
The number of the undistributed GI sheets could have helped about 2,600 typhoon victims, based on the memorandum of agreement entered by Antonio's administration with the National Housing Authority (NHA), which specified that each victim should receive 6 GI sheets.
The aftermath of Typhoon Vinta in 2013 left a total of 47,527 houses damaged in Cagayan alone. Of the number, 5,189 were totally damaged, while 42,338 were partially damaged.
A 2015 report of the Commission on Audit (COA) said that the provincial government has yet to turn over 4,362 GI sheets as of yearend.
The undistributed GI sheets are worth P1,788,420 ($38,051)* based on Purchase Order (PO) No. 0005, which indicated that a sheet costs P410 ($8.72).
The remaining sheets are a part of the 78,904 GI sheets, worth P35,350,640 ($752,141.3)*. The GI sheets were purchased from Puyat Steel Corporation in Makati City.
The cost was covered by the grant obtained by Antonio from the NHA and purchases were made in April 2014, 5 months after the typhoon.
“This showed that the items were not immediately issued to concerned Vinta victims as intended by the program. This further defeats the purpose of the program or procurement which should have been distributed immediately for the timely rehabilitation [of the damaged houses]," COA said in its report.
As of posting, 1,359 of the 4,363 GI sheets, or P557,190 ($11,855)* worth of housing materials have yet to be turned over.
In February 2016, the administration of Antonio again purchased from Puyat Steel Corporation a total of 14,202 GI sheets at P480 each, all amounting to P6,816,960 ($145,041.7)*.
The purchase was authorized by Purchase Order No. 0005, the same PO of the earlier purchase of 78,904 GI sheets two years earlier.
Rogelio Sending, the provincial information officer, said the GI sheets purchased last February are also for the Typhoon Vinta victims.
It was unclear why the previous administration made the housing aid purchases two years after the typhoon. But Sending said the second purchase is still covered by the MOA between the provincial government and NHA.
But lawyer Cristina Antonio, daughter of former Governor Antonio, told Rappler that carrying out the housing assistance could really take time.
Antonio, who lost to Mamba during the 2016 gubernatorial elections, said that her father's administration could have just taken extra precautions in choosing the recipients of the housing materials to prevent irregularities.
Meanwhile, Mamba already ordered the provincial social welfare office to validate and confirm if the GI sheets were received by legitimate victims. – Rappler.com
*$1 = P47