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COA finds P48.8-M Yolanda donations sleeping in banks

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MANILA, Philippines - The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) kept in banks more than P48.8 million in local and foreign donations for victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda instead of using the funds to help those in dire need of aid, according to a Commission on Audit (COA) report.

COA said such act deprived typhoon victims of needed assistance in their lowest times, defeating the purpose of the donations.

Released yesterday, the COA report said the amount was found deposited in banks as of Dec. 31, 2013, and based on the response of the OCD to such findings, the money remained in the banks as of June 2014.

Yolanda, the strongest recorded typhoon to make landfall, hit the country on Nov. 8, 2013 and devastated at least five regions including the provinces of Leyte, Cebu, Iloilo, Aklan and Palawan. More than 6,000 people were confirmed killed, with thousands more missing.

President Aquino issued on Nov. 11, 2013 Proclamation No. 682, declaring a state of national calamity upon recommendation of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

COA reported that for 2013, cash donations received by the NDRRMC from local and foreign sources totaled P99.197 million, P48.815 million of which were received for Yolanda victims.

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“We noted, however, that the donations for Typhoon Yolanda remained intact with the depository bank. There were no disbursements out of the donations received,” state auditors said.

“For donations received in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda, we can safely assume that the donors intended these donations to be used for the victims and/or the communities affected by the typhoon, unless otherwise required to be returned to the donor.

“What the victims need is speedy delivery of basic goods and services as temporary relief from their unexpected plight. We believe that this is the very essence of the prompt donations entrusted by the donors and NDRRMC should actively play the very important role lodged to it in times of disasters,” state auditors added.

For this reason, COA tasked the OCD and the NDRRMC to utilize the donations for the intended purpose by determining the actual needs of the typhoon victims to improve their living conditions.

It also recommended that the OCD and the NDRRMC coordinate with other agencies and other relief providers on the grant of assistance already extended to the victims to avoid duplication.

In response to the COA report, state auditors said the civil defense administrator directed all regional directors during the Senior Leaders’ Conference on June 16 to 18, 2014 to coordinate with local chief executives to determine the actual needs of victims in the affected areas.

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