The Daily Manila Shimbun


DND justifies use of disaster risk reduction and management funds

January 23, 2017

The Department of National Defense (DND) justifies the use of its disaster risk reduction and management funds amid Commission on Audit (COA)’s findings on alleged misuse of such funds.
Arsenio Andolong, DND public affairs chief,  said repairs and reconstruction of military facilities were done to ensure these structures can be used during disaster response operation.
“For the repairs or reconstruction of facilities which were noted by COA to be not in accordance with the purposes of the quick response fund (QRF), we maintain that these were undertaken to ensure that the facilities and equipment utilized by humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) personnel affected by calamities may be normalized as quickly as possible,” said Andolong.
“The construction or repair of AFP camps and facilities were undertaken to address the damage sustained during calamities such as Typhoons Santi, Glenda, and Yolanda, among others. It was necessary that certain offices and facilities of the AFP be immediately rehabilitated or repaired so as not to hamper their response to HADR missions,” he added.
In a report, the COA said out of the P572.9 million budget for disaster response in 2015 of DND, it only used P236.31 million.
The state auditors found about improper charges against the QRF and non-observance of regulations regarding fund transfers to offices with unsettled cash accountabilities.
COA said using P73.929,934.91 pesos for repair and reconstruction using the QRF is not in accordance with the intended purpose of the fund which was for immediate needs for relief and rescue during disasters.
The state auditors noted that the P73.93 million includes the P41.82 million that was transferred to the AFP Finance while the P32.1 million  was transferred to Office of Civil Defense.
Andolong said “as to the release of QRF to various implementing agencies with unliquidated fund transfers, the DND saw the need to urgently transfer funds given the extraordinary circumstances"
“There was a need to strike a balance between policy and urgency of requirements in order to restore public service and provide support to damaged facilities in disaster-affected areas. An example is supporting the petroleum, oil, and lubricant (POL) requirements of various equipment of the AFP out of the DND QRF. It would be noted that POL for HADR is not included in the regular AFP budget,” he said.
“On the items procured out of the QRF that were marked by COA as overpriced, we reiterate our position that the use of retail prices, instead of wholesale prices, was necessitated by the fact that the procurement was on a small scale, thus big companies did not show interest in joining the bidding process,” he added.
“Furthermore, the urgency of the situation required that the items related to disaster response and relief, such as personal protective equipment, medicines, medical supplies, and purified water be made available immediately,” Andong said.
He also emphasized that amid the issue “Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana nonetheless issued guidance for relevant offices to conduct a review on the items raised in the COA consolidated report.” Robina Asido/DMS