Some P3.455-billion or 85% out of the total P4.055-billion funds under the Recovery Assistance for Yolanda (RAY) have already been liquidated by concerned local government units (LGUs) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), according to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said that the remaining 15% or P600.67-million that remains unliquidated as of July 4, 2019 mostly represents ongoing projects currently being implemented by the LGUs that is being closely monitored by the Department.
Started in 2014, the RAY project covers the repair, rehabilitation, and reconstruction of government facilities damaged by Typhoon Yolanda such as municipal halls, public markets, civic centers, barangay facilities and similar infrastructure using the Build Back Better designs.
“There have been significant accomplishment in the implementation of the Yolanda projects in the concerned LGUs from January to June this year that were not captured in the Commission on Audit (COA) report whose cutoff date is December 31, 2018,” explained Año.
In its 2018 annual audit report, COA has flagged the Department for its failure to liquidate P1.059-billion Yolanda funds as of December 2018 covering P219-million RAY funds transferred to the DPWH and P839.877-million funds transferred to LGUs.
“We want to make it clear that while the funds were appropriated by Congress to DILG, we transferred this to the implementing agencies, DPWH and the LGUs, thus, the task of liquidating the funds lies in the shoulders of the implementing agencies. Nevertheless, we are still actively and continuously monitoring and coordinating with the DPWH and LGUs to fast track the liquidation of the funds entrusted to them,” says Año.
Of the P600.67 million remaining unliquidated funds, P219-million is with the DPWH and P381.035-million are with the LGUs which are mostly ongoing projects under RAY Batches 2, 3, and 3A.
“The thousands of RAY projects were started and completed in varying periods reckoned on the dates the funds were released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the subsequent submission of liquidation reports will, of course, depend on the period of implementation," Año said.
To date, the DPWH has completed all of their 25 RAY projects while the LGUs have completed 4,403 projects. There are currently 370 projects undergoing implementation, 25 on procurement process, and 6 on preparation of documentary requirements.
Año added that while all the DPWH projects have been completed, they are still waiting for the liquidation reports from their regional field offices before they can forward their national report to the DILG.
To help fast track fund utilization by LGUs, Año said the Department will send Finance Monitoring and Tracking Teams together with Engineers and Accounting staff to Yolanda-affected LGUs which have already completed the repair, rehabilitation or reconstruction of RAY projects in their respective jurisdictions. This will be done in coordination with their respective COA offices.
According to Año, the process of liquidation takes time and there are times when the implementing LGUs have already submitted their liquidation reports to their respective COAs but failed to forward a copy of their report to the DILG for reconciling of accounts considering that they are also implementing a number of other projects funded by other national government agencies.
“There are instances when the implementing offices failed to furnish the DILG with their liquidation reports submitted to their respective COA offices, hence the disparity of liquidated amounts,” he explained.
Liquidation of P10M Federalism funds by PCOO
Meanwhile, DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan E. Malaya said that the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCCO) has already replied to the 2018 COA Audit Report regarding the P10 million transferred to them last year for the Federalism information campaign.
PCOO Assistant Secretary Marie Banaag explained that the COA Report only captured the liquidation as of end of December 2018 and that the remaining funds are currently being implemented by their attached agencies like the Philippine Information Agency, Philippine Broadcasting Service, and PTV 4. “In May of this year, PCOO have submitted progress and liquidation reports for expenses and accomplishments in 2018 amounting to 1.5M to the DILG,” she said.
She explained said that there was some delay in the downloading of funds to their attached agencies due to compliance with COA guidelines. “Since we have to comply with COA Guidelines in so far as the transfer of funds from PCOO to our line agencies, we could not legally transfer the funds at that time without the necessary attachments,” she said.
“Furthermore, the unspent amount of PhP8.5M reverted to the National Treasury on Dec. 31, 2018 pursuant to Section 22.214.171.124 of the DBM National Budget Circular No. 573 dated January 3, 2018 (Guidelines on the Release of Funds for FY 2018), and was only returned to PCOO in March 2019. This was eventually downloaded to our line agencies in accordance with the deliverables of PCOO to the DILG,” she said.
Banaag said the PCOO and its attached agencies are currently exerting their utmost efforts in making Federalism known to the Filipino people through various platforms such as broadcast media and social media.
Malaya, on the other hand, said that they are closely monitoring the implementation of the projects by the PCOO. “Since all of these activities are ongoing and will last until the end of the year, the submission of liquidation reports will be after the completion of all activities as per revised Memorandum of Agreement with the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO),” he explained.
The DILG also said that their procurement of goods and services faithfully comply with COA Circulars as well as procurement rules and regulations.
The P2.93-million expenditures for fuel, oil, and lubricants were utilized for the 23 pooled motor vehicles owned by the Department, reimbursement of fuel expenses of officials with assigned vehicles in the performance of their official functions, and gasoline allocation for trainings and seminars of operating units.
“As recommended by COA, the Department will adopt the Fleet Card Program/ Fuel Card System for the pooled vehicles of the Department by next year as a system to effectively monitor fuel utilization,” says Año.
The DILG is also now in the process of preparing the necessary documents such as Memorandum of Agreement, Travel Ticketing Registration Form, Agency Procurement Request, etc. in order to utilize the Government Fare Agreement (GFA) as required under a Department of Budget and Management circular.
The Budget circular prescribing the use of GFA was issued only last December 11, 2017 and the agency needs to comply with a lot of requirements and prepare the necessary documents for the GFA.
As for the COA findings in DILG regional offices, the DILG secretary “assured COA and the public in general that the DILG is committed to faithfully adhere with the procurement process as we are continuously conducting seminars and trainings to our people to ensure greater compliance with relevant procurement laws, rules and regulations.”