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OCD: Only disaster victims’ families can get cash donations

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) yesterday clarified that the cash donations in its bank accounts can only be released to families of those who died or were injured because of disasters. 

The OCD was reacting to a report by the Commission on Audit (COA) that the OCD has kept more than P384 million in donations in its bank account instead of using them to bankroll the relief and rehabilitation of calamity victims.

OCD administrator Alexander Pama explained that his agency cannot use the funds for other purposes as this would violate a policy crafted in 1998.

“Under that policy, the utilization of the donated funds is for those who lost loved ones or those who sustained injuries. That is the reason why the utilization of the funds is slow,” Pama said yesterday.

In its 2014 report, COA said the funds have been accumulating since 2008 due to its low utilization rate of 17.39 percent. According to the state auditor, only P81 million of P466 million was spent during the last six years.

COA said of the P137 million received by OCD from different state agencies for residents affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda, only P38.755 million has been released as of the end of 2014.

According to the COA report, the donations have earned an interest of about P1.7 million.

Yolanda, which ravaged the Visayas in 2013, left at least 6,300 persons dead and more than 28,000 others injured.

Pama said his agency is now proposing amendments to the policy on donations to make it more responsive to the needs of disaster victims.

“We want a more comprehensive (policy) to include shelters and relief items not only for those who lost their loved ones. We now have a draft,” Pama said, adding that all member agencies of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) would be involved in the discussions.

Over P10-B calamity fund still unused

Currently, P10.28 billion of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund or calamity fund remain untouched in spite of the requirement of typhoon victims for financial aid and other assistance, according to Sen. Loren Legarda, chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance.

“On top of that, we still have so much QRF (quick response funds) left, amounting to P5.458 billion. We have 81 percent of the QRF unutilized. Does this mean that these agencies have been able to provide for relief and other post-disaster needs of those who were affected by the 11 typhoons that entered the country before Lando?” she said.

For this reason, Legarda has called for the immediate utilization of the calamity fund and QRF held by different government agencies to assist the victims of Typhoon Lando and the storms that hit the country last year.

Based on official government data, Legarda listed down the different agencies with QRF under the 2015 national budget. – With Marvin Sy

ACIRC ALEXANDER PAMA LEGARDA LOREN LEGARDA NATIONAL DISASTER RISK REDUCTION AND MANAGEMENT COUNCIL NATIONAL DISASTER RISK REDUCTION AND MANAGEMENT FUND OFFICE OF CIVIL DEFENSE PAMA SENATE COMMITTEE SUPER TYPHOON YOLANDA TYPHOON LANDO
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