August 5, 2015
An official from the social action arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines expressed alarm on the possible use of the government’s Typhoon Yolanda funds in next year’s elections.
NASSA/Caritas Philippines Executive Secretary Fr. Edwin Gariguez made the statement following recent studies which showed the Aquino government’s prolonged delays in fund releases under its Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan (CRRP) for Super Typhoon Yolanda.
“Ang problema po dito darating ang 2016. Kailan nila ilalabas ang pondo? Naghihintay ba sila ng 2016? Ang nakakalungkot dito, baka hinihintay ang 2016 bago ilabas ang pondo. ‘Yun ang di maganda. Baka hinihintay ang 2016 para ipamudmod itong malaking pera na ito. Yan ang hindi dapat mangyari,” Fr. Gariguez strongly said.
Data from a recent study by NASSA/Caritas Philippines, Development & Peace and other advocacy groups showed that only P73.51 billion or 41.61-percent of the total P170 funding requirements have been released as of March 2015.
The study further said that only P2.4 billion of the targeted P26 billion for social services was funded in 2014. This is apart from the P13.6 billion released for resettlement of the required P75 billion, P2.4 billion of the P26 billion for target social services, P9.8 billion of the P33 billion funds for livelihood, and P21.5 billion of the P35 billion budget for infrastructure.
Gariguez also pointed out the lack of transparency on how the funds for Yolanda were used.
A report from the Department of Budget and Management apparently showed that the budget for the Yolanda reconstruction is shared with other rehabilitation efforts for other calamities such as the Bohol earthquake.
“This is another cause for concern. Why do they have to mix up the funds for the rehabilitation efforts of different calamities? This is a clear disregard of basic accounting principles. Again, this clearly shows the government’s ‘super inefficiency’,” Gariguez lamented.
The priest also raised alarm over the indebtedness incurred by the government as the “financial requirements of the rehabilitation have become the government’s pretext in accessing loan obligations with multilateral financial institutions.” So far, the government has incurred a total of P126.2 billion debts.
“These are the issues that we want President Aquino to clarify during his last State of the Nation Address. Unfortunately, this did not happen,” he added.
As of 2014, the government has only completed 2,100 houses for ‘Yolanda ’victims, which is very way below the much needed and targeted 205,128 shelters.
NASSA/Caritas Philippines is currently heading the Catholic Church’s largest three-year rehabilitation program for Yolanda survivors called REACHPhilippines which amounts to P816.96 million in the first year alone of the program implementation.
In 2014, it was able to construct 3,117 houses for typhoon survivors of the nine worst-hit provinces. For the second year, it will continue to build more houses and provide various interventions, which they would be announcing this week.
JING REY HENDERSON
(0905) 546-9977 / 525-1924