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MANILA, Philippines – The Maasin City government in Southern Leyte province wanted to prepare early for calamities, instead it wasted nearly a million pesos worth of foodstuff.
This wastage was uncovered by the Commission on Audit (COA) which said Maasin’s mishandling led to spoilage and wastage of perishable goods intended for disaster response.
In COA’s 2022 audit report on Maasin City released April 27, government auditors found that part of its Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund was used to procure groceries and other ready-to-cook meals.
Items purchased in the P1.182 million allocation were canned sardines, beef loaf, corned beef, instant noodles, and purified water. As for rice, the government auditors found that Maasin had ample supply of the staple coming from donations.
However, only P199,500 worth of the goods from the calamity funds were tapped during the year. This left a total of P982,400 stocks. The auditors said these stocks were listed as “welfare goods for distribution” as part of disaster response.
But government auditors found these food items rotting and infested by pests in their storage areas, rendering these all but useless.
COA said: “During inspection, it was found that the welfare goods were not properly stored. There is leaking from the ceiling of the storage in Barangay Rizal. The storage room in Barangay Combado is unsanitary/unhygienic. Dust, spillage, and cockroaches were observed during the inspection.”
“There were damaged goods due to the unpleasant smell and discoloration on some of the packed rice. Gnawing holes or damages observed on the box and packs of noodles is a sign of mice and cockroach activity,” the auditors added.
The auditors conducted onsite inspections at the storage facilities in Purok Bangkal in Barangay Rizal and at the Liga ng mga Barangay Building in Barangay Combado. The inspecting team concluded that both sites were unfit to store perishables.
The officer-in-charge of Maasin City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) told COA that the two venues were only temporary store rooms.
The CSWDO said the current facilities were damaged when Super Typhoon Odette swept through Eastern Visayas in December 2021.
During the exit conference, city government officials told COA that a new storage facility was now being constructed.
COA said providing adequate storage areas was also part of disaster preparation. It also said that the Maasin City mayor must also remind the CSWDO to constantly monitor the state and volume of the stored foodstuff. – Rappler.com