The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) today released an excerpt from its extensive and still ongoing investigation on the department’s recovery and rehabilitation program to address the crisis created by Supertyphoon Yolanda when it ravaged the country in November 2013.
This is in response to the clamor of many Filipinos seeking explanation as to why the DSWD is able to provide ESA immediately to survivors of recent typhoons Ferdie and Lawin while many of the survivors of Yolanda still have to be given assistance.
The focus of this excerpt is the Supplementary Budget from the Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda / Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Plan (RAY/CRRP), and it is based on the report of the Disaster Response Assistance and Management Bureau (DREAMB).
Since the damage caused by ‘Yolanda’ was very extensive, the funds of DSWD were not enough to provide for the shelter needs of the survivors. The budget submitted to the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR) and the accomplishments as of August 15, 2016 are shown in the following Table.
Budget and Accomplishment for ESA (from report of DReAMB)
a. DSWD submitted to OPARR its proposal for ESA:
- ESA for totally damaged houses: 449,127 HHs @P30,000.00 = ₱ 13,473,810,000
- ESA for partially damaged houses: 517,214 HHs @ P10,000.00 = ₱ 5,172,140,000
b. From submission of the proposal until funds were released, DSWD released MC 24 on November 21, 2014. The field offices mentioned that they were not consulted regarding this new MC which disqualified individuals from receiving ESA based on the following:
- They live in danger zones or ‘no build zones’;
- They earn more than P15,000.00 per month;
- They have been given shelter assistance by other NGOs.
c. The original list of beneficiaries submitted to OPARR had to be revised based on the new guidelines in MC 24. The municipalities had to re-validate and amend the master list, wherein some beneficiaries who were not eligible as prescribed in MC24 were delisted. This brought about a lot of confusion and anger on the part of the beneficiaries which are still evident while doing this study. Distribution of ESA was not easy; in fact, it could not be considered ‘emergency shelter assistance’ anymore since it was distributed in 2015, more than a year after Yolanda struck the islands.
d. DSWD received supplementary budget for ESA in the amount of ₱ 20,010,650,000.00. As of August 15, 2016, the accomplishments are as follows:
- Partially damaged homes (667,429 @P10,000.00): ₱ P6,674,290,000.00.
- Totally damaged homes (468,528 @P30,000.00): ₱ 14,055,840,000.00.
- Total expenses: ₱ 20,730,130,000.00.
- Other funds came from: donations – ₱ 543,277,224.90; QRF – ₱176,202,775.10.
What happened to the funds?
More than a million families have been given ESA. Despite that, there are still thousands who are still waiting for their ESA. The request to DBM in the amount of P1.17B for ESA of 83,228 families in Region 6 has just recently been disapproved.
The research team led by Assistant Sec. Aleli Bawagan focused on the many complaints the DSWD has received and continue to receive regarding ESA. Many individuals submitted written complaints to the research team. The complaints can be grouped as follows:
Wide discretion given to the barangay chair and other officials in the selection of ESA beneficiaries.
This paved the way for ineligible beneficiaries to be included in the list, such as: two ESA beneficiaries in one household; families who do not live in the barangay even before ‘Yolanda’ but are still included in the barangay voter’s list were included in the list; individuals who had partially damaged homes were listed under totally damaged.
This practice also excluded other survivors, such as: those living in remote sitios of the barangay; fisherfolk living in coastal communities; those who live in the barangay but temporarily relocated since there was no work available after ‘Yolanda’; and families, including government employees, who have a monthly salary of P15,000.00 and above. There was also an increase in claimants of ESA such as those who did not have their names listed since they did not believe that assistance will be provided (according to them ‘to see is to believe’), but had damaged homes as well.
The barangay officials also had the discretion to identify homes as partially or totally damaged since there were no clear guidelines.
- Beneficiaries for totally damaged homes did not receive the full P30,000 ESA but received only P10,000;
- The provision in MC24 re beneficiaries living in ‘danger zones’ was differently interpreted by LGUs. Some coastal communities in Iloilo were given their ESA, but not in Leyte and other provinces. Beneficiaries who lived in ‘danger zones’ were excluded despite the absence of any issuance that their community is in fact located in a ‘danger zone’;
- MC 24 stipulated that ESA beneficiaries should not be recipients of shelter assistance from other NGOs, but since the assistance from various organizations was not closely monitored, this provision was again implemented differently by LGUs;
- Despite unfinished distribution of ESA, P14,610,000.00 was returned to the DSWD Field Office by the former Mayor of Balangiga after he lost in the 2016 elections. Upon verification with the Field Office, it was confirmed that the said amount has been returned to the National Treasury.
- Affected families outside the 50 km radius of ‘Yolanda’ path were excluded as beneficiaries.
- Other beneficiaries were shortchanged, e.g.
- some individuals took advantage of ESA distribution and would ‘buy’ the ESA of beneficiaries days before the distribution at a lower price, e.g. P8,000 for ESA of P10,000; the beneficiaries would ‘sell’ their ESA since they need the cash badly;
- other beneficiaries received ‘voucher’ which contained a list of construction supplies woth their corresponding ESA; but since their homes have been repaired, again other individuals ‘buy’ their vouchers for a cash amount lower than the value of the voucher, e.g. P20,000 for ESA of P30,000; again, beneficiaries would ‘sell’ their vouchers since they need the cash more than the construction supplies.
e. According to the staff in the field offices, if AO17 was used rather than MC24, then ESA distribution would have been finished a long time ago. Unlike now, three years after Yolanda, there are still a lot of families not given their ESA.
f. It is recommended to formulate new guidelines for the distribution of ESA for future calamities. DREAMB is currently drafting the new proposed guidelines.
The remaining balance from cash donations of ₱35,166,640.42 and available funds from the DSWD Field Office 8 in the amount of ₱ 10.7M may be used for ESA. However, this will not be enough to cover the number of families who did not receive their ESA. The proposal to DBM for P1.17B for ESA beneficiaries in Region 6 has been disapproved. DSWD is currently looking at the possibility of requesting for funds from OCD.
Asec. Aleli Bawagan – a full professor on leave from the University of the Philippines’ College of Social Work and Development — said that the initial conclusions included in the report can be easily validated and verified using the mountain of data, written complaints, as well as documented interviews that are at the hands of the team doing the research on ‘Yolanda’ aid.
“We are doing this independent of all outside help. This is strictly our initiative in the DSWD which we have taken because of the continuing demands of the public that records on ‘Yolanda’ aid be reported. Filipinos — especially those who have been hard hit by ‘Yolanda’ – have been demanding transparency and explanations for the last three years. The DSWD as caretaker of the donations and relief funds as well as the government’s main welfare agency cannot be remiss in its duty and allow another year to pass without giving a credible response to these demands,” she said. #