COA: Wounded Marawi soldiers received crumbs from P274-million aid

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) found that hundreds of injured soldiers who fought in the 5-month-long siege of Marawi City received less than P10,000 in aid from the P274 million worth of donations that the Philippine government received.

In their 2018 report, state auditors said there were "no clear guidelines" that served as basis for the distribution of cash assistance to wounded soldiers.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) listed 2,266 casualties, including 287 soldiers who were killed in action and 1,979 wounded in action.

The AFP delegated the task of distribution to special disbursing officers (SDOs) who gave the amount of assistance at their discretion.

Of the killed, only 8 received cash assistance from the government, following the letter directive in July 2017 that mandated all fallen soldiers must receive P1 million.

Of the wounded, only 949 received cash assistance. Of this number, 446 received less than P10,000, bringing the total disbursed to P15.066 million:

The cash aid released to all wounded and killed soldiers amounted to P23.14 million.

According to the COA report, some P251.72 million had reportedly been transferred to implementing agencies from the P274 million worth of donations. These agencies were not named in the audit report.

The unspent P8,653.63 was deposited to the Bureau of the Treasury.

COA said "several factors should have been considered" in computing the amount for distribution, including the nature of injury and the number of days spent in the hospital.

In response to the audit findings, the AFP General Headquarters submitted guidelines used in the distribution of the cash assistance. But COA said these lacked details, except for the guidelines used for those who were killed in combat.

"The team could not find any justification on the guidelines as to who among the pool of killed or wounded in action personnel would receive one rate or the other," state auditors said. –