Cagayan 'prepared' despite underspent disaster funds, governor tells COA

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 18 2020 08:49 AM | Updated as of Nov 18 2020 09:06 AM

Floodwater remains between around a cluster of houses in Anafunan East in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan, with water levels ranging from knee to waist-deep, on November 16, 2020. Water levels during Typhoon Ulysses were higher than expected despite residents' history and preparedness for floods in the area. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Cagayan was "prepared" for Typhoon Ulysses' floods despite not having spent its calamity funds as flagged by the Commission on Audit, its governor said Wednesday.

The province experienced its worst flooding in four decades following heavy rains from nearby provinces and water release of Magat Dam, Governor Manuel Mamba earlier said. At least 9 fatalities were earlier reported in Cagayan, while the whole region has recorded 24 deaths in total as of Tuesday.

The COA in its annual audit report said Cagayan has yet to spend P57,151,770.82 of its local disaster fund as of Dec. 31, 2019.

Mamba said the province's calamity fund remains intact as he focuses on training people to respond to disasters.

"We were prepared from the very start. Totoo po na di ko pa nagagastos pero masinop po ako, hindi po ako gumagastos nang ganun ganun dahil sayang po ang pera kung gagamitin saan saan lang kahit di kailangan bibilhin," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.

(It's true we have yet to spend it because I'm prudent, I don't spend on just anything because money will be wasted if we use it on things we don't need.)

"Walang kakayahan dahil hindi raw ako gumastos pa ng aking calamity fund. Binibigyan ko po ito ng direksyon kasi ito po 'yung inaabuso. Ang sa akin po ang number 1 is ma-organize ang tao."

(They say we had no capacity because I did not use our calamity fund. I give direction on how to spend it because it is abused. For me, the priority is to organize people.)

Mamba added that there was no equipment to prevent a whole province from being submerged due to flooding.

"Mas alam ko po ito kaysa sa COA. Sa totoo lang po, paano mo lalabanan ang buong probinsiya ma-underwater. Anong equipment ang gagamitin niyo dun?" he said.

(I know this better than COA. In truth, how can you prevent a province from going underwater? What equipment will you use?)

"Kumpleto naman kami ng boats, ang akin po is organize people so you could capacitate them, empower them. Kasi halos sabay-sabay po. Kaya ang sa akin more on organizing, capacitating or training people kung papaano marespond."

(Our boats are complete, my priority is to organize people to capacitate, empower them because disasters occur almost simultaneously here.)

The COA also said the province does not own and maintain all the equipment required under the minimum standards for disaster preparedness for local governments.

"As a result, lives and properties of the Province’s constituents may be at greater risk," it said.

The province's disaster office has agreed with COA's recommendation to consider procurement of suggested equipment for succeeding years, according to the report.

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