Caritas exec fears ‘Yolanda’ funds might be used in 2016 polls

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Bunkhouses for Yolanda vicitms in Palo, Leyte

MANILA, Aug. 5, 2015— An official of Caritas Philippines fears that the government’s fund for rebuilding areas hit by typhoon Yolanda might be used in next year’s elections.

Unhappy with pace of rehabilitation, Caritas executive secretary Fr. Edu Gariguez said it has been two years after the typhoon and many victims are still living in dire conditions.

“When will they release these funds? Are they waiting for 2016?” he said.

He said the delay is unacceptable since there tens of thousands of families displaced by Yolanda in 2013 that are still waiting for help.

2016 funds?

“They might be waiting for 2016 until this large sum of money be released. And this must not happen,” Gariguez said.

A recent study by Caritas and other humanitarian organizations showed that only Php 73.15 billion of the total Php 170 funding requirements has been released as of March 2015.

The study further said that only Php 2.4 billion of the targeted Php 26B for social services was funded in 2014.

Caritas noted that the said amount is aside from the Php 13.6 billion released for resettlement of the required Php 75B, Php 2.4B of the Php 26B for target social services, Php 9.8B of the Php 33B funds for livelihood, and Php 21.5B of the Php 35B budget for infrastructure.

The priest also lamented the “lack of transparency” on how the funds for Yolanda were used.

“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 said.

Rechanneling of funds

A report from the Department of Budget and Management revealed that a part of the Yolanda rehabilitation funds were given for other calamity efforts 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?” said Gariguez.

“This is a clear disregard of basic accounting principles. Again, this clearly shows the government’s ‘super inefficiency’,” he added.

As of 2014, the government has only completed 2,100 houses for Yolanda victims, which according to Gariguez “is very way below the much needed and targeted 205,128 shelters.”

Caritas is at the forefront of the church’s three-year rehabilitation program for typhoon victims which amounts to Php 816 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, Caritas proposed about Php 432 million for them to continue building more houses and other interventions. (Luke Godoy/CBCPNews)

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