Province risk mgmt. council told to keep up with reports on funds

AJ de la Torre (The Freeman) - June 12, 2013 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - With a new head for the Provincial Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council, Acting Governor Agnes Magpale assured the Commission on Audit that they will religiously work on the monthly reports of the council and the transferring of unexpended balances of the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (LDRRMF).

In the Audit Observation memorandum sent to the office of Magpale, the COA stressed that the provincial government did not submit monthly reports on the use of the LDRRMF.

This would be in violation of a 2012 COA circular stating that a report on sources and utilization of the DRRMF "shall be prepared and certified correct by the local accountant which the LDRRMO shall submit on or before the 15th day after the end of each month through the LDRRMC and Local Development Council to the COA auditor of the LGU."

Further, the COA pointed out the lapse of the province in transferring the unexpended balance of the LDRRMF amounting to P126,479,017.30 to a special trust fund as indicated in the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010.

The Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 10121 states that "unexpended LDRRMF shall accrue to a special trust fund solely for the purpose of supporting disaster risk management activities of the LDRRMC within the next five years. Any such amount still not fully utilized after five years shall be reverted back to the general fund and made available for other social services to be identified by the local sanggunian."

"The total unexpended amount was not transferred to a special trust fund because of a conflict of opinion between Provincial Accountant and Provincial Budget officer," stated in the COA Audit observation memo, referring to Marieto Ypil and Emme Gingoyon, respectively.

The PDRRMA also states that not less than five percent of the estimated revenue from regular sources will be set aside for the LDRRMF in order to support disaster risk management programs like pre and post disaster preparedness programs and training, the purchase of life-saving rescue equipments, supplies and medicines, as well as the payment of premium on calamity insurance and construction of evacuation centers.

According to the COA report, the province of Cebu appropriated five percent or P98,723,000.00 for LDRRMF in its general fund but only P36,880,392.69 was spent.

In 2011, P64 million was also unspent which gives a total balance of P126 million.

COA recommended that this amount be transferred to a special trust fund for activities of the DRRMC within the next five years.

Magpale assured in their meeting with COA that they will be abiding with the transferring of unexpended balance especially with COA emphasizing the importance of transferring the said balance of the LDRRMF to a special trust fund "to act as stand-by fund available for use without delay in the event of any disaster of calamity within a period of five years."

The COA said that any fund transferred to a trust fund account would no longer be used except for the purpose it was established.

Last December 2012, Magpale swore into office Neil Sanchez as the new head of the PDRRMC. –(FREEMAN)

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