COA: Cebu City has P637M untapped disaster prevention funds

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    GOVERNMENT auditors said the Cebu City government had unutilized appropriations totaling P637.79 million for capital outlay and disaster preparedness, mitigation, and prevention as of December 31, 2019, including funds programmed for the procurement of equipment dating back to 2014.

    In an audit report released last July 8, the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management council was called out on the delay in the implementation of the programs which deprived the city residents of the benefits to be derived from them.

    A breakdown of the unused funds showed P24 million were set aside way back in 2014 for the construction of a Command Center Building with a full equipment setup, purchase of emergency response equipment and tools, and medical supplies and equipment.

    In 2015, allocations amounting to P84.87 million were also left untouched although among the programmed acquisitions for the year were calamity response and rescue equipment as well as the construction of evacuation facilities.

    Also unrealized was a P30 million “recovery and rehabilitation structure;” P21.42 million worth of “disaster response and rescue equipment;” and a P15 million “city-wide early warning system.”

    In reply to the audit observations, the Cebu City DRRM Office cited failure of public bidding in the procurement of medical supplies and equipment because no supplier wanted to participate.

    It said the prices were set based on the Department of Health’s Drug Price Reference Index but contractors complained about the low prices.

    It also pointed out that the city government has crop insurance fund which it is hoping to use up first before spending the LDRRM Fund.

    Citing the position of the City Agriculture Office, the City DRRM Officer noted that the disaster funds will be used for crop, accident, property, building an equipment once the crop insurance funds is depleted.

    “The low utilization of the LDRRM Fund indicated that the city may not be serious in building and strengthening disaster-resilient communities and mitigating the impacts of disasters,” the audit team said.