DSWD defends higher-priced shelters for 'Pablo' victims

Posted at 02/04/13 6:39 PM

MANILA - Bunkhouses built using government funds are larger and better than emergency shelters set up by aid groups helping Typhoon Pablo victims, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said Monday.

The DSWD, in a press statement, said the bunkhouses that serve as temporary shelters for families have bigger floor areas, thicker floors, more roofing, and other amenities.

The agency said its bunkhouses have pathways, wash areas, and kitchen compared to shelters built by groups such as the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

It issued the statement amid reports that DSWD bunkhouses are overpriced, with each costing P550,000 compared to an IOM bunkhouse that only costs P259,653.

The DSWD also denied alleged double payment to soldiers who helped build a bunkhouse in San Rafael, Cateel.

"In lieu of the voluntary service of 20 AFP Engineering Brigade soldiers, the DSWD provided them food allowance not salaries in the amount of P100 per day per person. Brigade officials acknowledged receipt of P30,000 which was released in two tranches. The first tranche in the amount of P20,000 was released on December 15, 2012 and the second tranche in the amount of P10,000 was released on December 30, 2012," the DSWD said.

"Copies of the receipts and names of soldiers are in the regional office in Davao City," it said, adding that the department saved P17,465 in labor.

The DSWD said all construction materials for its projects undergo strict inspection and auditing.

For its projects in Cateel, Davao Oriental, all materials are kept at the DSWD central warehouse in Poblacion, Cateel town, the agency said.

"We would like to emphasize that all transactions and activities of the regional office on the construction of the bunkhouses are supported by documents which are submitted to the Commission on Audit for Post-Audit. Rest assured that should there be findings of irregularities, the DSWD management will deal with this accordingly upholding the tenets of full accountability and transparency," DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman said.

Meantime, Soliman, in an interview with ANC Monday, said the government's relief and rehabilitation efforts for Pablo victims continue.

"We continue to give and provide food packs to families affected," she said. "That means providing for 233,354 families."

"This will continue until the end of March," she said.

She said the next step is rolling out cash-for-work and livelihood programs for the typhoon victims.

Soliman said other government agencies are also determining no-build zones in affected communities to prevent a repeat of the disaster.