COA flags disaster-response items exposed to deterioration in warehouses

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 30 2018 01:16 PM

MANILA - The Commisison on Audit has called the attention of the Office of Civil Defense to information materials and other non-food items which remain idle and undistributed, exposing the items to “obsolescence, deterioration and the risk of waste of government funds.”

In its 2017 annual audit report on the OCD, the COA said the items should have been distributed to local government units for full utilization in times of disasters, or should not have been procured at all.

The OCD, headed by Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad, is the implementing arm of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council tasked to administer a comprehensive national civil defense and disaster management program. 

“Various non-food items (NFIs) procured in prior years to be distributed to the different LGUs and to the victims of calamities are still kept in the bodega for more than two years,” the COA said.

Among the items mentioned are luggage bags, mosquito nets, reflector vests, portable emergency light, heavy duty lamps, helmets with lamps, water containers, plastic pallets, plastic crates, rescue ropes, ring buoys, megaphones, flashlights, acquired in 2008 and 2012, with a total amount of P746,069.

“The purpose of procuring the NFIs was not satisfactorily achieved as manifested by the length of time they had been stored. Had the agency considered first and prioritized the purchase of a much needed supplies items, unnecessary expenses could have been avoided. The amount of P746,069 could have used to purchase the immediate needs of the victims,” the COA report said. 

The audit report also said there were 400 pieces of latex surgical gloves and eight pieces of all-purpose rescue gloves donated to OCD which are still undistributed and are almost deteriorating.

Some 50,250 pieces of information materials worth P300,495 also remain undistributed after the OCD procured 120,000 pieces to guide the public on how to be safe during disasters such as tsunami, fire, landslide, earthquake, volcanic eruption. 

The materials include storm surge posters, tsunami posters, fire posters, tropical cyclone posters, go bag posters, flood posters, landslide posters, earthquake posters and volcanic eruption posters.

“To be able to fully realize its mandate and in order to assist the government in promoting public awareness and enhancing capabilities of stakeholders in disaster preparedness and risk reduction, it is but imperative that the information materials be widely disseminated,” the COA report said.

The COA also ordered 14 personnel of the OCD to return meal allowances worth P47,700 which they incurred for five months in 2016 when they manned the OCD operations center.

It was noted that there is a COA circular dated October 29, 2012, upheld by the Supreme Court, which enumerates food allowance, rice subsidy and health care allowance as unnecessary benefits as there is no law granting government employees such benefits.

“In this regard, the above cited claims were unauthorized, have no legal basis and unnecessary,” the COA said.

The COA also told officers who lacked the time to look into their liquidations as well as deficiencies which resulted in the accumulation of outstanding cash advances amounting to P3.3 million to strictly adhere to rules on cash advances. 

The COA noted that the OCD agreed to refrain from granting additional cash advances unless the previous cash advances were fully liquidated.