COA lauds Pampanga for disaster risk reduction projects

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – The Commission on Audit (COA) has cited the provincial government of Pampanga for its substantial accomplishments, particularly on disaster preparedness and response.

In its 2016 annual audit report, COA noted the Capitol’s significant projects and activities on disaster risk reduction and management, and in providing humanitarian response and assistance to affected communities despite the minimal utilization of the province’s Local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Fund (LDRRMF).

According to the COA report, only 40 percent or P109,758,427.98 of the total P310,766,142.27 budget for DRRM was utilized in 2016.

The budget was used for the desilting and clearing of rivers and waterways to mitigate the effects of disasters, particularly flooding; purchase of land at San Roque, Mexico to be used as relocation site for flood-threatened residents of the province; construction of evacuation centers and facilities in Lubao, Magalang; and rehabilitation of PEO compound in Sindalan, City of San Fernando.

The provincial government was also able to provide food relief assistance to disaster-affected Kapampangans; financial assistance to relocated settlers at Cupang, Arayat and to flood and fire victims; and purchase emergency response and rescue equipment, supplies and materials.

Part of the used budget also went to projects, programs and activities for information dissemination, including water search and rescue training and fire and earthquake drill training; organizing Nanay Disaster Volunteers who conduct information dissemination in the communities and barangays and school DRRM coordinators to enhance involvement of the academe for faster cascading of relevant information to students.

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) of Pampanga was consistently awarded as best PDRRMC in Region III for three consecutive years (2014 to 2016) despite the under-utilization, the report said.

The PDRRMC was also named as one of the best DRRM units across the country in the recent Gawad Kalasag National Awarding ceremony.

On ‘infractions’
COA, in the same report, also noted the disparity in the grant by the provincial government of burial assistance to 489 constituents who died in 2016.

The report states the ‘infractions’ in the implementation of Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s Ordinance No. 662, granting burial assistance to the families of deceased Kapampangans.

Based on the sample of beneficiaries, the assistance ranged from P5,000 to P30,000.

Provincial Social Welfare and Development Officer Elizabeth Baybayan explained that the amount of assistance given to kabalens varies because the assistance was based on the assessment of the social worker as per interview of the client who is a relative of the deceased.

She added that the Local Chief Executive and/or her Executive Assistant can also determine the amount of burial assistance to be given to the beneficiaries.

Baybayan also mentioned that the Ordinance does not state a specific amount to be given to the bereaved families.

State auditors likewise noticed the payment of funeral service fees made by the provincial government to funeral parlors that have not been accredited by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP).

The social worker said “indigent clients mostly go to funeral services that are in close proximity to their residence or where the deceased kabalen passed away, thus there were different funeral service providers and coffin suppliers for the burial assistance transactions”.

Baybayan said the PSWDO will recommend specific guidelines for promulgation of the SP based on the notable situations encountered by social workers in the provision of burial assistance to the bereaved families of senior citizens.