MANILA, Philippines – Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said they will prioritize the review of projects and services related to the rehabilitation of Yolanda-stricken communities.
This comes after the Commission on Audit (COA) found that a total of P907.56 million in Yolanda funds were misused by the Tacloban City government – a report that has since been rejected by former mayor Alfred Romualdez. The DSWD was among the agencies that disbursed the funds.
“We also want transparency in all our programs. DSWD will review the COA report and validate the information provided. Any anomalous action or neglect on the selection of beneficiaries or on the overall implementation process will be dealt with appropriately,” Taguiwalo said on Monday, August 1.
The DSWD chief was referring to the failed implementation of the million-peso Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) program.
State auditors said Tacloban’s social welfare office failed to properly assess the beneficiaries of the program. Several families who received aid were actually earning P15,000 or higher every month. The funds distributed to each household also differed.
The social welfare office countered, however, that some of the residents lied about their living conditions.
“We all know that there were several negative issues on the massive disaster response operations for survivors of Yolanda which hit the country in 2013. We want to know what went wrong so we will not repeat these,” Taguiwalo said, stressing that they have been reviewing their programs since July 1.
Spoilage of relief goods
Taguiwalo also vowed to improve the handling of public funds following another recent COA report that exposed the spoilage of canned sardines worth P11.89 million.
The DSWD chief said her staff is now discussing measures to address the situation based on COA’s recommendations.
In 2014, the DSWD admitted that P2.8 million worth of relief goods for Yolanda-hit areas were wasted due to improper handling by agency staff. (READ: COA: Yolanda fund, donations did not reach victims)
Aside from the spoiled goods, COA also stated in its recent report that there were deficiencies in the records of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). These included duplicate entries in the 4Ps payroll, delays in the distribution of payouts, and suspension of compliant beneficiaries.
Reacting to this, Taguiwalo said: “This is the very purpose why we are undertaking the review of 4Ps. We want to explore more effective means to review the financial system and other processes of the program to ensure that such findings will never be repeated.”
Taguiwalo earlier announced that there would be no expansion of the anti-poverty program in 2017 due to the government’s lack of funds. – Rappler.com