MANILA – The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) on Wednesday explained its unused funds for disaster relief and COVID-19 response, which state auditors recently flagged.
The office received P1.854 billion in Quick Response Fund, of which 97.89 percent or P1.814 billion was spent, the Commission on Audit (COA) said.
However, it said in an annual audit report that OCD's regional offices were only able to spend 74.17 percent of the total funds transferred to them, leaving an unused balance of around P174.756 million.
“Yung use kasi natin ng COVID funds are mostly demand-driven,” said OCD Administrator Ricardo Jalad.
He said the agency's pandemic funds are meant to support the needs of isolation facilities, such as food, water, electricity, waste collection, sanitation, and the accommodation of health workers. The funds "cannot be spent on other expenses," said the official.
"If these requirements are already met, so there’s no need for additional expenses. And if these quarantine facilities will have reduction in occupancy, therefore there will also reduction in expenses,” Jalad told ANC’s “Rundown.”
“Ganoon din sa disaster response fund natin,” he added.
(It's the same for our disaster response fund.)
Jalad also noted that some OCD regional offices were badly hit by COVID-19, which explained the low spending rate in some areas. But he said the agency was taking steps to address this.
“We are acquiring laptops so that our people can work from home or work from isolation facilities, and we are educating them on the proper procedures of procurement system, and we are filling up our regional offices,” Jalad said.
“Our offices only have an average of 20 people, and most of them are multitasking so we have to understand that our regional offices are not that capacitated but we are going towards that,” he continued.
The official also noted that despite the issues flagged by state auditors, the OCD received an unmodified opinion, the "highest opinion" that COA gives to government agencies.
“And in their letter to OCD, they said that there’s basis for giving the unmodified opinion and therefore OCD’s overall handling of its funds its excellent,” Jalad said.
— ANC, 22 June 2022