Budget watch group urged President Duterte to put Yolanda on top of his agenda | SWP Press Release Sep 9 2016
SocialWatch Phils·Saturday, September 10, 2016
“The government has reneged on its promise to build back better in the Yolanda-hit areas. Almost three years after the monster storm, the victims are even worse off than before, with no permanent shelter and livelihood, poorer and more vulnerable. It was the failure of the previous administration but we expect President Duterte to address this with utmost urgency and do better.”
Social Watch Philippines (SWP) issued this statement as they finished their study, tracking government’s funding for Yolanda reconstruction and rehabilitation in seven cities and municipalities in Eastern Visayas.
The budget watch group criticized the dismal implementation of Yolanda reconstruction and rehabilitation as it urged the Duterte Administration to immediately start spending money that is already appropriated for the Yolanda victims.
SWP’s Public Expenditure Tracking Tool (PETT) was used in monitoring the funds spent and the status of implementation of programs, projects and activities in resettlement, livelihood, emergency shelter assistance, education, and health. The study was conducted in Tacloban City for resettlement only; in Tolosa, MacArthur, Dulag, Mayorga in Leyte, and in Basey (Samar) and Salcedo (Eastern Samar) for all the recovery efforts cited above.
“The Yolanda recovery and reconstruction is agonizingly slow and miserably falling short. Our findings in these municipalities represent the overall status of implementation as reported by the national government. There’s huge gap between what was planned, budgeted and received by intended beneficiaries. The implementation is marred by inefficiencies, lack of information and transparency and other institutional weaknesses,” explained by Isagani Serrano, Co-Convenor of SWP.
The study found only 8% completion of the target housing units in the municipalities covered by the study. Of the target 14,433 housing units, the NHA was able to complete the construction of 1,137 units in Tacloban city only and none in the other municipalities covered by the study.
In a recent forum that SWP organized with the government agencies, local government officials and civil society partners in these areas, the representative of the NHA in Region 8 claimed 42% of the target was substantially completed. Of the target housing units, 5,852 in Tacloban city, 30 in Mayorga (Leyte), and 170 in Basey were completed.
Meanwhile, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) reported in its website that as of March 2016, the completion rate of houses for the Yolanda victims is only 9% and 42% of the target housing units has not even started. Only 19,330 out of the 205,128 intended to provide shelter to the victims were completed and 98,393 housing units are still being constructed.
The representative of the Department of Agriculture in Region VIII who attended the forum shared that their budget for the Quick Response Fund was P502 million. Out of this amount, the agency returned P27 million back to the Bureau of Treasury because they were not able to spend the money.
The DA representative said the procurement process was questioned by the Commission on Audit (COA) which caused the delay in delivery of planting materials, seeds, tractors and other assistance.
The representatives of DA and PCA shared that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has not released their allocation for the Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program (CRRP).
We are rebuilding communities not to bring them back to their pre-disaster situation of poverty and vulnerability. If Yolanda reconstruction is our benchmark for building back better it’s big wonder how we would “be able to face up to the worse that’s yet to come,” Serrano added.
The group urged President Duterte to create a central agency, with regional counterpart that should be able to coordinate with local government units, and with clear mandate and funds to coordinate and address problems in the implementation of reconstruction and rehabilitation for Yolanda and other disasters in the future.
The representatives of government agencies in the forum proposed to improve the government’s baseline data gathering among the agencies. This includes the pre-disaster assessment of each sector – agriculture, industry, health, education, etc. They also proposed the archiving of data be given priority with the data safely stored and away from physical damage.
Serrano said this administration should institute policies to improve institutional, financing, and coordination mechanisms under disaster risk reduction management. Specifically, COA and the DBM should be on board from the very start of disaster response to see the practical problems that implementing agencies face from the time of the response to reconstruction.
SWP also called on the government to encourage citizens’ participation in determining the needs for the recovery and rehabilitation of communities. (END)
Leonor Magtolis Briones Isagani R Serrano Rene Raya Jeck Reyes-Cantos Marivic Raquiza Janet Crndng
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