COA: Ormoc failed to distribute P7.8M in relief goods

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) swept Ormoc City with questions about its multimillion-peso disaster response and preparation spending in 2017, when the city faced a devastating earthquake in July and deadly storm Urduja in December.

In its report released on Wednesday, June 6, the COA flagged Ormoc's allegedly wasted purchase and auditing of relief goods, the lack of storage facilities in which to store these, and the choice to allot bulk of the budget to vehicles and heavy equipment despite locals needing rehabilitation for their homes.

1. Spending for storage

The Ormoc City government failed to distribute around P7.8 million worth of relief goods by the end of 2017, the COA said.

This is broken down into around P5.4 million in undistributed goods intended for earthquake-stricken families, around P2.45 million in goods for flood victims, and more goods purchased despite the stockpiled goods and donations from the private sector.

"Procurement of relief goods without sufficient basis resulted in accumulation and storage of items/goods beyond their expiration dates, rendering them unfit for consumption," state auditors said.

2. Lack of storage facilities

Despite keeping so many undistributed goods and millions of pesos more to spend, the city government failed to put up a storage facility to keep them, the COA said.

Instead, Ormoc City swamped its city hall lobby and social welfare and development office with the undispensed canned goods, blankets, and tents.

Coming to the local government's defense, Mayor Richard Gomez said the lobby was their best bet at storing the goods as it had CCTV cameras. The COA still noted that there were goods stolen from the lobby, however.

3. Prioritizing vehicles

The COA noted that the local government itself recorded about 2,272 households left with damaged homes after the earthquake, and 6,311 families pulled out of their homes because of the storm floods.

Despite this, the COA said Ormoc City still spent a bulk of its disaster fund – P44.53 million out of P60 million – on vehicles and heavy equipment. –