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Senator tells gov’t to use P1.44-T funds flagged by CoA for typhoon recovery 


FUNDS for P1.44 trillion worth of idle projects flagged by the Commission on Audit (CoA) should be realigned for the recovery of areas devastated by typhoon Odette, a senator said on Thursday.  

The CoA has called out 17 government agencies over delayed, abandoned and idle infrastructure projects “which may result in waste of government funds or delayed enjoyment of project benefits.” 

This is “a criminal neglect,” said Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon in a Viber message. “We have no funds for the typhoon victims, but CoA finds P1.44 trillion in idle funds? These funds should be immediately re-aligned to provide funds to typhoon victims.”  

Officials responsible for the flagged projects, he added, should be charged for causing injury to the public because of their “reckless imprudence.”  

Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, Sr. said government prosecutors from the Ombudsman or Justice department as well as investigation agencies should give “utmost importance and attention” to CoA audit reports to address corruption in the country.   

“For one, the audit reports provide very good leads in identifying misuse and abuse of public funds and pursuing cases against erring public officials as well as their cohorts in the private sector — including contractors and suppliers,” Mr. Lacson, who is running for president next year, said in a statement on Thursday.  

State auditors earlier said the delays in project implementation may have been due to “abandonment by the contractor, inefficiency in monitoring of project implementation, poor planning and workmanship and lack of coordination with local government units and other agencies concerned.”  

“So much is lost to corruption,” said Mr. Lacson, when the country is already “neck-deep in debt without seeing the commensurate programs, projects and activities designed to uplift the lives of Filipinos.”  

Meanwhile, Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian on Thursday said that child welfare and safety should also be given priority in post-Odette relief and rehabilitation efforts.  

He called on the Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Health, and Department of Social Welfare and Development to provide child-friendly spaces and address the health, nutritional and psychological needs of young survivors.  

With the DepEd eyeing the expansion of limited face-to-face classes in January next year, Mr. Gatchalian said the safety of schools in typhoon-hit areas should also be prioritized.   

Around 15 million learners in 35,698 schools were affected by the recent typhoon, while 671 schools are being used as evacuation centers, according to the senator. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan

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