Civil society hit lack of transparency on Yolanda funds for 2016


Civil society group Social Watch Philippines (SWP) urged Congress to examine the P44.49 billion allocation for Yolanda Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program in the 2016 national budget and compel the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to specify the allocation for every program, activity and project.

“Judging from the Special Provisions of the 2016 budget for Yolanda Rehabilitation and Reconstruction, the Executive continues to neglect our call to make the budget for Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Plan (CRRP) transparent with specific amount for each of the programs in the list. This despite that climate change adaptation and mitigation is one of the five key result areas of the Aquino administration. For us citizens, it is important that the information is clear to facilitate citizen’s participation and accountability will be upheld,” said Prof. Leonor Magtolis Briones, SWP Convenor.

SWP also responded to the DBM’s press release that criticism on the tracking of Yolanda funds should not mislead, and neither should it be supported by erroneous data.

“Indeed, we want to believe DBM that all is well, but the affected communities and even the agencies implementing the reconstruction efforts are giving us a different picture. The data that we used in our study are official government data. We have been requesting this information from concerned agencies since February of this year but to no avail. We checked the press releases of DBM in their website but these, too, do not contain details of the allocation according to the CRRP,” Briones explained.

According to Briones, the DBM admitted in their media release that the budget for Yolanda reconstruction is shared with equally necessary relief and rehabilitation for calamities that happened even before Yolanda – Quinta, Emong, Juaning and Bohol earthquake. “In other words, the amount they gave is not for Yolanda victims alone. Sharing resources with victims of other disasters is understandable, even desirable but the government should be transparent about this,” Briones added.

The press release of DBM indicated the amount released to the agencies. Almost half or P41.9 billion of the P88.9 billion total releases as of June 30, 2015, supposedly for Yolanda reconstruction also went to relief and rehab for other calamities.

SWP earlier shared the major findings of its study on the tracking of funds for Yolanda reconstruction and found the reconstruction plan poorly implemented, release of funds delayed, and the sources of funds, allocation and status of spending for these funds unclear.

This study covers 14 municipalities and one city in Samar, Leyte, Northern Palawan, and Iloilo.

Delayed provision of the Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) is on top of the affected communities’ complaints. Survivors in Leyte called this provision DESA or Delayed ESA because there are still many beneficiaries who have yet to receive the much needed assistance from DSWD.  Delayed releases were also reported in Northern Palawan, specifically Busuanga and Linapacan.

SWP found that while construction for permanent housing had already started in most Yolanda affected areas, snags such as land acquisition, pricing, resistance by target beneficiaries, and documentation were encountered. A large number of this target is yet to be implemented in Tacloban, Leyte, Easter Samar Iloilo, Northern Palawan.

“Immediate resolution of these snags in the implementation of the reconstruction plan can be addressed if only President Aquino will designate a separate entity that has technical and administrative competence to implement the CRRP and other reconstruction efforts in the future, with the necessary budget and mandated to steer the recovery process,” Briones said.

                                 

Posted By: Edrillan Pasion

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Author: tuklasinnatin

A Journalist and served government for 20 years. A community organizer who rose from a clan of artists and novelists.

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