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A worker picks up a sack of rice from an aid truck in Marugong town, Lanao del Sur in this March 31, 2019 photo. The International Committee of the Red Cross delivered food and non-food aid package for the 9,000 internally displaced people affected by almost a month-long military operation against remnants of the Daesh-inspired Maute group in Marawi City in 2017. (photo by Froilan Gallardo)

P35.8 million for Marawi siege victims still unspent

By Carolyn O. Arguillas
Mindanews .

1st of two parts

DAVAO City – At least P35.8 million of a total of P36.92-million donation for victims of the 2017 Marawi siege has remained unspent as of May 30, 2019.

This, even as the bulk of the amount —  P36.77 million out of P36,920,725 — was donated between August and November 2017.

Ed Posadas, spokesperson of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), said Monday that P1.08 million had been disbursed as of May 30, up from P10,000 as of yearend 2018, leaving a balance of P35.8 million.

This year, he said, a million pesos was given to Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) for its social healing and peacebuilding activities for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) while P70,000 went to families of seven victims slain during the siege at P10,000 each, in addition to the lone beneficiary’s last year.

The OCD is the implementing arm of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

In his statement on May 31, Ricardo Jalad, OCD administrator and NDRRMC executive director, said the P1-million support to TFBM field office was “for their project during the Ramadan holiday on June 5.”

Eduardo del Rosario, TFBM chair, said the P1-million fund was “requested a month ago to support the Ramadan intervention activities of the Field Office.”

Posadas said the donations may be in the custody of the OCD but the utilization of the fund is with the implementing agencies.

Purpose defeated

The Commission on Audit (COA) found in its Annual Audit Report on the OCD that at the end of 2018, a total of P36.92 million had been donated for the victims of Marawi Siege.

The COA report included a table showing the names of the donors, the dates and amounts of donation. A total of P36.77 million was donated between August and November 2017.

The table also showed the balance as of Dec. 31, 2018 was pegged at P37,814,909.62 because of the gain on foreign exchange revaluation of P894,184.02. The forex gain, however, fluctuates.

But based on the P36.92-million total donation, only P10,000 or .026 percent of the donated funds – was disbursed  in 2018 to only one beneficiary — the family of a slain victim who was not named in the report.

“Clearly, the donations were not utilized to provide for the much needed support of the Marawi Siege victims,” the COA said, adding that “the poor utilization of the donated funds defeated the purpose of donation and that the good intention of the donors for human consideration was not fully served.”

By May 30, 2019, P1.08 million had been disbursed, representing 2.92 percent of the total donations.

Ten donors, 9 in 2017

Nine donors gave a total of P36.77 million between Aug. 22 and Nov. 27, 2017: the embassies of Thailand (P5,092,000) and India (P25.57 million), the provincial government of Bulacan (P4 million), the municipalities of Tagudin in Ilocos Sur (P100,000), and Infanta, Isabela (P100,000); Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (P500,000); Mr. and Mrs. Jaime Dimson of Lubao, Pampanga (P1 million); and two other anonymous donors (P111,500 and P300,000).

The 10th donor, Belle D. Justiniani donated P147,225 on June 5, 2018, bringing the total donations to P36,920,725.

The COA report said that as of December 31, 2018, “only P10,000.00 was actually utilized leaving a balance of P36,910,725.00.”

It said Memorandum Order 13 of the NDCC (now NDRRMC) dated June 23, 1998 provides that donated funds shall also be utilized for “payment of financial assistance to victims of calamities” although it “should not be restricted only to the grant of financial assistance” as provided under the 1998 memorandum order.

The memo provides that families of disaster victims shall be given P10,000 for the dead and P5,000 for the injured.

Documents needed

The COA, however, noted that financial assistance can only be availed of if claims are filed at the regional DRRMC, supported by documents.

For the injured, the documents required are a medical certificate from the hospital or clinic where the victim was confined for at least three days, local DRRMC or police report on the incident, and local endorsement for the payment of claims from the chair of the local DRRMC.

For the dead, relatives must be able to present a local DRMMC or police report on the incident, death certificate, certification from the barangay captain, proof of filial relationship with victim and endorsement for the payment of claims from the local DRRMC.

“The production alone of the above documents could be very burdensome for some victims, which could be one of the causes of low utilization of the donated funds,” the COA said.

The memo order, it noted, also provides that “all claims are valid only within one year from the time of the disaster.” (to be concluded)

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