PHNO HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS PAST WEEKEND

TYPHOON RUBY VICTIMS TO SPEND CHRISTMAS IN EVACUATION CENTERS

DEC 24 ---In this Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014 photo, strong waves crash into coastal houses as Typhoon Hagupit pounds Legazpi, Albay province, eastern Philippines. Typhoon Hagupit knocked out power in entire coastal provinces, mowed down trees and sent more than 650,000 people into shelters before it weakened Sunday, sparing the central Philippines a repetition of unprecedented devastation by last year's storm. AP/Aaron Favila, File CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: Thousands attend MILF's political party launching

DEC 24 --Members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. AP file MAGUINDANAO, Philippines — Thousands of guerillas and supporters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front converged at Camp Darapanan on Wednesday to show force in the launching of the MILF's pioneering United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP). The MILF already sought accreditation for the UBJP from the Commission on Elections to enable the party to pit candidates for local positions and elective posts in the upcoming Bangsamoro government during the 2016 electoral exercise. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: LP leaders say, Roxas-Poe tandem unbeatable

DEC 23 --Some Liberal Party stalwarts think the tandem of Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II and Sen. Grace Poe in 2016 will be unbeatable, although they admit the situation is still very fluid. Ratings of Roxas, LP’s “sentimental choice” to be standard bearer, surged in the latest Social Weather Stations survey, although Vice President Jejomar Binay was still the top choice to be the country’s next president. The poll, conducted from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1, showed Binay leading the list of possible presidential candidates for 2016 with 37 percent of votes of 1,800 respondents nationwide. Poe was second with 21 percent, followed by Roxas with 19 percent. Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, during the signing of the 2015 national budget at Malacañang yesterday, said they were really keen on having Poe in the administration ticket. But Roxas remains to be LP’s apparent choice for president for now, according to Budget Secretary Florencio Abad after the signing of the budget. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Survey result brings cheers to Binay this Christmas

Vice President Jejomar C. Binay has enough reason to be merry this Christmas. Despite going through a lot of troubles the past few months, brought about by corruption allegations against him, the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showing he remains the top choice to succeed President Aquino in 2016 has brought him cheers. “Of course,” Binay said when asked by newsmen if he is happy over the results of the SWS survey last Monday afternoon at the Coconut Palace in Pasay City. Thirty-seven percent of the 1,800 respondents of the Nov. 27-Dec. 1 survey favored Binay as their choice to be the country’s next leader. He was followed by Sen. Grace Poe (21 percent) and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II (19 percent). For Binay, the survey results showed that more Filipinos have realized that the corruption allegations against him and his family are “lies” perpetuated by his political enemies to hurt his chances of winning the 2016 presidential race. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: SWS has Binay still at top 

PHOTO: Binay Roxas Poe --Grace Poe, Mar get high marks in new survey  THE latest Social Weather Stations survey shows Vice President Jejomar Binay still at the top of the list of presidential candidates for 2016, with 37 percent of respondents saying he was the best leader to succeed President Benigno Aquino III, as opposed to Senator Grace Poe at 21 percent and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II at 19 percent. The survey, conducted from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1, involved face-to-face interviews with 1,800 adults to determine their choice for president in 2016.
The SWS findings reflected the Pulse Asia survey showing that Binay would be the runaway winner in a four-way presidential race with Senator Grace Poe, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Senator Alan Peter Cayetano. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: DSWD beneficiaries questioned by COA

Families not on the list of beneficiaries, government employees and Filipinos working abroad received cash doles from the administration’s centerpiece program to address poverty, according to state auditors. There were also double payments to people whose names appeared on the list twice, the auditors said. The Commission on Audit (COA) said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) handed out more than P1 billion to about 364,000 families whose names were “missing” from the database of the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program in 2013. First introduced by the Arroyo administration, the CCT, or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), is patterned after antipoverty programs implemented in Latin American countries. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: COA uncovers serious audit deficiencies in ‘Pantawid’ program

Double entries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries, failure to deliver P330.24 million cash dole outs, incomplete documents for dole out refunds, and release of P429.5-million cash dole out to unlisted recipients were among the serious audit deficiencies uncovered by the Commission on Audit (COA). In COA’s 2013 annual audit report for the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), it found highly questionable transactions in the way the agency implemented the 4Ps, the Aquino administration’s centerpiece anti-poverty program. Based on the COA report, state auditors found duplication of names of beneficiaries reflected in the payrolls, thereby, putting in serious doubt the distribution of P46.502 million to the poor. COA also chided the DSWD for failing to deliver P330.24 million of the P10.629 billion in cash dole outs to the poor. Unclaimed grants were for distribution to beneficiaries in eight regions in the country. READ FULL REPORT..


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

'Ruby' victims to spend Christmas in evacuation centers


In this Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014 photo, strong waves crash into coastal houses as Typhoon Hagupit pounds Legazpi, Albay province, eastern Philippines. Typhoon Hagupit knocked out power in entire coastal provinces, mowed down trees and sent more than 650,000 people into shelters before it weakened Sunday, sparing the central Philippines a repetition of unprecedented devastation by last year's storm. AP/Aaron Favila, File

MANILA, DECEMBER 29, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Patricia Lourdes Viray - Around 100,000 victims of typhoon Ruby in Eastern Visayas will spend Christmas in evacuation centers.

According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), most of the residents from Western Samar and Eastern Samar are still staying in schools and tents.

Some evacuees may experience a "dim" Christmas since power is not yet restored in Western Samar, Northern Samar and Eastern Samar.

More than 36,000 buildings, moreover, were destroyed in Region VIII, according to regional disaster risk reduction agency data.

A total of 15 casualties were recorded in the region, majority of the causes were drowning. Meanwhile, 855 were injured when the typhoon struck.

Typhoon Ruby left the Philippine Area of Responsibility last December 10 and affected 944,249 families from Regions III, IV-A, IV-B, V, VI, VIII, CARAGA and National Capital Region.


FROM PHILSTAR

Thousands attend MILF's political party launching By John Unson (philstar.com) | Updated December 24, 2014 - 11:15am 1 136 googleplus0 1


Members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. AP file

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines — Thousands of guerillas and supporters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front converged at Camp Darapanan on Wednesday to show force in the launching of the MILF's pioneering United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP).

The MILF already sought accreditation for the UBJP from the Commission on Elections to enable the party to pit candidates for local positions and elective posts in the upcoming Bangsamoro government during the 2016 electoral exercise.

Sammy Al-Mansour, UBJP secretary-general, said the gathering of "volunteers" at Camp Darapanan is an initial decentralization stride meant to organize community-based partisan blocs that can help educate the public on peace and development objectives of the newly-formed political party.

RELATED EARLY NEWS  MILF to form political party for 2016 polls

"This is the start of the MILF's evolution from an armed revolutionary group into a political organization that would continue struggling for peace and development in the homeland in another arena --- governance and politics," Al-Mansour said.

The MILF is upbeat on the creation of the Bangsamoro government via a legislative measure, the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which is now in Congress and is expected to be passed and ratified via a plebiscite by early 2015.

Nation ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 The bill's enactment into law will pave the way for the replacement of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with a more administratively empowered, presumably MILF-led Bangsamoro government.

Former ARMM Vice Gov. Benjamin Loong and several Tausog leaders from the island province of Sulu were among the personalities that graced the political party's first conclave at Camp Darapanan, the group's bastion in Sultan Kudarat town.

Loong is a younger sibling of incumbent Sulu Rep. Tupay Loong, a member of the 75-member House committee handling the draft Bangsamoro bill.

Mujiv Hataman, ARMM's incumbent chief executive, said he is elated with the MILF's entry into politics to pursue its development agenda for Mindanao's Moro communities.

"That's a move worthy of our support, far from being bloody and disastrous," said Hataman, even as the creation of the Bangsamoro government could boot him out of power.

Hataman said he has ordered the ARMM's police command to help secure the gathering of the UBJP volunteers at Camp Darapanan through the joint government-MILF ceasefire coordinating committee.

The ARMM covers Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, both in mainland Mindanao Mindanao, and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

The ARMM provinces will form part of the central core territory of the proposed Bangsamoro government, whose creation is part of the final peace deal between the government and the MILF, the March 27, 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro.


FROM PHILSTAR

LP leaders: Roxas-Poe tandem unbeatable By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 24, 2014 - 12:00am 6 170 googleplus1 0

MANILA, Philippines - Some Liberal Party stalwarts think the tandem of Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II and Sen. Grace Poe in 2016 will be unbeatable, although they admit the situation is still very fluid.

Ratings of Roxas, LP’s “sentimental choice” to be standard bearer, surged in the latest Social Weather Stations survey, although Vice President Jejomar Binay was still the top choice to be the country’s next president.

The poll, conducted from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1, showed Binay leading the list of possible presidential candidates for 2016 with 37 percent of votes of 1,800 respondents nationwide. Poe was second with 21 percent, followed by Roxas with 19 percent.

Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, during the signing of the 2015 national budget at Malacañang yesterday, said they were really keen on having Poe in the administration ticket.

But Roxas remains to be LP’s apparent choice for president for now, according to Budget Secretary Florencio Abad after the signing of the budget.

“The talk about choosing from the outside is a secondary process that should happen after the initial process made by the party,” Abad said.

Asked if Roxas was in a good place, Abad said Binay was ranked 37 percent and “in other words, those who may not vote, based on that survey, for him is about 63 percent.”

“And eventually this thing will simplify into two or three candidates so in that sense, that number, at this stage, is I think… good but will definitely be better if eventually he decides to run and the party selects him, because there is always a bump upwards when candidates declare themselves available and even more so if they are endorsed by the sitting president,” Abad said.

“So there are more positive sides, upsides I should say, that he (Roxas) will enjoy once those declarations are made,” he said.

According to Abad, they have not yet formally discussed the lineup for 2016, saying it would be premature to talk about having guest candidates because in fairness to the party, it should be given the opportunity to consider first candidates within its ranks.

“And that has not happened yet so I cannot preempt that process. I think that’s the first thing that the party, any political party, will do, to look within its ranks to see who are probable and test the possibilities for the candidate or those candidates,” Abad said.

Abad said surveys were important as they would give the people’s sentiments at a particular time and would become more important as the race was defined.

“When only one has declared himself a candidate and the rest have not, then it’s really difficult to use it as a gauge in saying that one is a candidate and the other has a certain chance of winning because in the minds of people, this is not yet the time to make firm judgments, so that will still be a long time. But as we approach 2016, then that narrows down, it simplifies, and people’s thinking will be more definite and firm, but at this stage, it’s hard to say,” Abad said.

He said it was too early to make those conclusions as the surveys were still rather erratic.

“Sometimes one candidate is high, sometimes it’s not high and the reason for that is, I think the people have not really sat down to think about these things and these are just really top-of-mind responses since there’s only one candidate who has declared himself a candidate in 2016 and all the others have not,” Abad said.

He said most people lack the basis to make firmer judgment as to whom they should pick.

By next year, Abad said things were expected to change as the “pulse will become more intense,” especially towards the last quarter of the year.

This is because by October, Abad said candidates would have to file their certificates of candidacy, so the months before that would be the proper time for people to have clearer choices because decisions and selection processes would have been made.

“It’s obvious that those are all contenders and therefore they will figure out, depending on what decision they make, because we really don’t know if all those three eventually will formalize their candidacies,” Abad said.

“Just taking off from the experience of the sitting president, President Aquino, the decision was made eight months before the elections and we are like seven months away from eight months so it’s still a long way to go and many things can happen, and that’s the nature of presidential races in the Philippines,” he said.

“You can plan to be a congressman, a governor or even a senator, but to run for president, there are many variables that are involved,” Abad stressed.


FROM THE INQUIRER

Survey result brings cheers to Binay this Christmas by Jc Bello Ruiz December 24, 2014


VP BINAY

Vice President Jejomar C. Binay has enough reason to be merry this Christmas.

Despite going through a lot of troubles the past few months, brought about by corruption allegations against him, the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showing he remains the top choice to succeed President Aquino in 2016 has brought him cheers.

“Of course,” Binay said when asked by newsmen if he is happy over the results of the SWS survey last Monday afternoon at the Coconut Palace in Pasay City.

Thirty-seven percent of the 1,800 respondents of the Nov. 27-Dec. 1 survey favored Binay as their choice to be the country’s next leader. He was followed by Sen. Grace Poe (21 percent) and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II (19 percent).

For Binay, the survey results showed that more Filipinos have realized that the corruption allegations against him and his family are “lies” perpetuated by his political enemies to hurt his chances of winning the 2016 presidential race.

PUBLIC PERCEPTION

“You know, one of the reasons bumagsak kami do’n sa rating for a time, pero we still maintained the leadership, is the perception that was created by our opponents (You know, one of the reasons my rating plunged for a time, even though we still maintained leadership, is the perception that was created by our opponents),” Binay told newsmen.

“It came to a point na nalaman na ng mga tao that these are all lies and it is politically motivated, so nagbalik ulit ‘yong numbers namin (It came to a point that the people realized that these are all lies and it is politically-motivated. So that’s why our numbers are up),” he added.

I have regained people’s trust based on the survey, Binay said.

“Yong mga nagbago ng kaisipan noon ay nagbalik na muli ang pagtitiwala (I have regained the trust of those who have lost their faith in me because of the allegations),” Binay said.

So is the worst over for Binay?

“Well, let’s hope and pray. Siguro hindi pa rin titigil ‘yon. Sige pa rin (I don’t think they will stop. They are not done yet),” he said, referring to his political foes.

The Binay camp had earlier said that they expect that allegations of the Vice President’s supposed properties in the United States to come out in the coming days.

MORE TO COME?

The Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee probing alleged Makati anomalies during Binay’s time as mayor is set to resume its hearings on January 22.

The inquiry is led by Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV whose credibility was questioned by Binay owing to their reported ambitions to become president of the land.

Binay, in a previous news conference, revealed that his former ally, ex-Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado, allegedly talked to their common friends in the US during his recent trip and tried to convince them to turn against the Vice President.

Mercado and his companions, Binay said, took photos of some properties in the US, and will make it appear that the Vice President is the owner.

Binay said Mercado and not him is the owner of the properties.

He said that even before the Senate hearings resume next month, he expects Mercado and the senator-foes to show pictures of properties in the US which they will claim to be owned by the vice president through supposed “dummies.”

Like the so-called “Hacienda Binay” in Rosario, Batangas, Binay also denied he owns a home in Beverly Hills, California, as has been floated.

Binay’s spokesman Joey Salgado had earlier said the Vice President political foes want him behind bars to prevent him from running in 2016.

Binay had also claimed that government agencies are being used against him and his family.

“Talagang gobyerno na ang kalaban mo rito. Inimbestigahan kami ng NBI, ng Ombudsman, ng AMLC. So, more to come (The government is now really being used against us. We are being investigated by the National Bureau of Investigation, the Office of the Ombudsman, and the Anti-Money Laundering Council),” Binay said referring to corruption allegations against him during his time as Makati mayor.

But the Vice President said he will continue finding ways to explain his side to the people.

Binay has refused to appear before the Senate sub-committee to answer allegations against him.

Instead, Binay went around the country and explained his side through media interviews and market tours, among others.

FOCUSED ON DUTIES

For now, Binay maintained that his focus is to fulfill his responsibilities as the chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and President Aquino’s adviser on issues concerning Filipino migrant workers.

“Let me just concentrate more on what I have to do under this administration. Matagal pa ang eleksyon (The election is too far off),” Binay said.

ERAP’S SUPPORT

Meanwhile, Binay remains confident he will have former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada on his side when he goes to battle for the presidency come 2016.

After all, Binay admitted, Estrada’ support would be crucial noting that he would not have become vice president if the former president did not choose him as his runningmate in the 2010 elections.

“Kung ako ay Vice President, malaking factor si President Erap dahil sa kinuha niya akong kandidato for Vice President (President Erap is a key factor why I became Vice President because he picked me as his candidate for Vice President),” Binay told newsmen in an interview after his meeting with Israel Ambassador to the Philippines Effie Ben Matityau at the Coconut Palace in Pasay City Monday afternoon.

As far as he is concerned, Binay said he is Estrada’s bet for president in 2016.

“Magkasama naman kami sa hirap at ginhawa (We’ve been through thick and thin),” Binay said of Estrada.

The Vice President also brushed aside Estrada’s recent compliment to his potential opponent in 2016, the administration’s presumptive standard bearer Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II. Estrada reportedly said Roxas was the best Cabinet man during his administration.

NOT THREATENED

The Vice President’s spokesman Joey Salgado had earlier told Manila Bulletin that the Binay camp does not feel threatened by the seemingly favorable public statements of Estrada on Roxas and Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares.

Salgado downplayed Estrada’s compliment to Roxas last week during an event at Baseco compound in Tondo.

“Erap said his statement about Roxas was not an endorsement. He was merely commenting on Roxas as Cabinet secretary before Roxas abandoned him,” Salgado said.

Roxas served as Trade Secretary during the administration of Estrada, who was ousted by a mass uprising in 2001 amid allegations of corruption. He was later convicted of plunder but was pardoned by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

On Estrada’s reported statement of support for Llamanzares, being the daughter of his best friend, the late actor Fernando Poe Jr., Salgado said the lady senator’s presidential bid remains an speculation at this time.

“On Grace, this is all speculation at this point. We take note and respect the statement of Sen. Poe that she is not prepared for the presidency so any comment on this would be purely speculative,” Salgado said.

He also noted that in another interview, Estrada said that he is pushing for a “Binay-Poe” tandem for 2016.


FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

SWS has Binay still at top  By Christine F. Herrera | Dec. 23, 2014 at 12:01am


Binay Roxas Poe

Grace Poe, Mar get high marks in new survey

THE latest Social Weather Stations survey shows Vice President Jejomar Binay still at the top of the list of presidential candidates for 2016, with 37 percent of respondents saying he was the best leader to succeed President Benigno Aquino III, as opposed to Senator Grace Poe at 21 percent and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II at 19 percent.

The survey, conducted from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1, involved face-to-face interviews with 1,800 adults to determine their choice for president in 2016.

The SWS findings reflected the Pulse Asia survey showing that Binay would be the runaway winner in a four-way presidential race with Senator Grace Poe, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Senator Alan Peter Cayetano.

No list of names was provided to prompt the respondents, who were asked: “According to the Constitution, the term of President Noynoy Aquino is up to 2016 only, and there will be an election for a new President in May 2016. Who do you think are the good leaders who should succeed President Aquino as President? You may give up to three names.”

Others, following the top three, were Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, 10 percent; Senator Francis Escudero and Manila City Mayor Joseph Estrada tied at 9 percent; Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV at 5 percent each; Senators Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Alan Peter Cayetano with 3 percent each; former Senator Manny Villar, Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. and rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson Jr. with 2 percent.

Obtaining 1 percent each were Senator Loren Legarda, Senate President Franklin Drilon, food security czar Francis Pangilinan and boxing champ and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao.

At least eight percent had no one to recommend and 15 percent could not give an answer, the SWS said.

Of the 1,800 adults polled, some 300 each were in Metro Manila, the Balance of Luzon and Mindanao and 900 were from the Visayas.

The SWS survey has sampling error margins of + and – 2 percent for national percentages, 6 percent plus and minus for Metro Manila, Balance Luzon and Mindanao and 3 percent plus and minus for Visayas.

The same question was posed to respondents in 11 surveys from September 2007 to November 2009 to determine who should succeed the President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

In May 2009, Villar took the top spot with 29 percent, followed by then Vice President Noli de Castro at 21 percent and Roxas with 18 percent. Those who mentioned Aquino represented only 0.4 percent of all respondents.

But in September 2009, a month after Aquino’s mother, former President Corazon Aquino, died, Aquino topped the survey with 60 percent, followed by Villar with 37 percent and Estrada with 18 percent.

In November 2009, it was Aquino with 59 percent, Villar with 37 percent and Escudero with 27 percent. Binay, at the time, had only 1 percent along with Lacson, evangelist Eddie Villanueva and then Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Bayani Fernando.

The SWS said all the surveys were non-commissioned and were done as a public service.

Reacting to the SWS survey, Poe said her political plans were not a priority at the moment.

She said, however, that the strong trust and confidence from the public inspired her to do more as a senator.

Binay issued a statement saying he was grateful for the recognition of his worthiness to assume the highest office in the land.With Macon Ramos-Araneta


FROM THE INQUIRER

DSWD beneficiaries questioned by COA 364,000 families not on database got P1B Marlon Ramos @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:26 AM | Thursday, December 25th, 2014


Secretary Dinky Soliman INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Families not on the list of beneficiaries, government employees and Filipinos working abroad received cash doles from the administration’s centerpiece program to address poverty, according to state auditors.

There were also double payments to people whose names appeared on the list twice, the auditors said.

The Commission on Audit (COA) said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) handed out more than P1 billion to about 364,000 families whose names were “missing” from the database of the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program in 2013.

First introduced by the Arroyo administration, the CCT, or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), is patterned after antipoverty programs implemented in Latin American countries.

Under the program, poor families are entitled to a P500 monthly cash grant. The DSWD also provides P300 in educational assistance for children who are enrolled in schools.

In return, a family must comply with program conditions, such as sending children to school, taking them to health centers for checkups and attending family development sessions.

The aim is for the children to finish high school and give them better chances at employment to break the cycle of poverty in their families.

Ineligible beneficiaries

In its audit of the DSWD’s financial status, the COA also questioned the documents pertaining to the return of nearly P2.5 billion in CCT funds, which had been allocated to “ineligible beneficiaries.”

It said the “refunds of grants” amounting to P2.46 billion from Land Bank of the Philippines for “ineligible beneficiaries and unclaimed grants … were not completely documented to establish the correctness of recorded returned grants.”

“We recommended that [for the DSWD] to comply … refunds of ineligible beneficiaries and unclaimed OTC (over-the-counter) grants be duly supported with the list of beneficiaries,” the COA said.

Almost 4M families

It said the amount represented 6.32 percent of the P38.915 billion in cash grants which the DSWD distributed to almost 4 million poor families last year.

COA auditors also discovered another ugly truth behind the CCT: A total of 428 beneficiaries were found to be barangay officials, government employees, overseas Filipino workers and members of middle-income families who received a total of P1.567 million in cash grants.

“(Their) inclusion in the program is inconsistent with the target beneficiaries of 4Ps from the poorest sector of society,” the COA said.

The 135-page report, which the COA submitted to the office of Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman on Dec. 15, did not conclude that the funds had been misused, misappropriated or embezzled by DSWD officials.

DSWD explanation

Sought for comment, Soliman on Wednesday said her office and the DSWD officers concerned had already submitted their answers to the observations of the COA audit team headed by Marieta Andoy.

Although there were adverse findings on the department’s financial transactions, Soliman reiterated that the COA did not find anything that may suggest that the CCT funds were mishandled by the DSWD.

In a mobile phone interview, Soliman said department officials already met with the COA audit team and presented their explanations during the exit interview.

No suspicions of misuse

“They (COA auditors) submitted that they did not see any suspicions of misuse or misappropriation of the funds. It’s really about the documentation, which they are seeking from us,” Soliman told the Inquirer.

“In fact, they admitted that they were able to interview those who actually received the cash grants (but were not on the list of beneficiaries),” she added.

Soliman promised to provide the Inquirer a copy of her office’s answer to the COA report on Dec. 26.

As to the purported missing beneficiaries who already received cash, she acknowledged that some of the names of the legitimate beneficiaries were not included in the “modified” CCT list.

IP families

“Some of those were families of indigenous peoples (IPs) who were not included in the survey,” she explained.

She said the documents of the distribution of CCT grants were jointly handled by the DSWD, Land Bank and their conduit organizations.

In its report, the COA said the DSWD distributed P1.081 billion to 364,636 beneficiaries who were not listed in its National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction program, the government’s “standardized targeting mechanism for identifying who and where the poor are.”

The COA said this “resulted in additional cost to the government in the distribution of CCT” grants.

It said P168.122 million was also given to 21,117 “non-poor beneficiaries.”

Double payments

In addition, state auditors also disclosed that there were “double payments” amounting to P46.502 million for 4,320 beneficiaries whose names appeared on the list of CCT grantees twice.

“(This) … not only resulted in incurrence of additional costs for the double payment of grants, but also misstated the cash and donation accounts,” the COA said.

P330M unclaimed

Of the P10.626 billion that the DSWD deposited in various Land Bank branches nationwide, the COA said P330.3 million had remained unclaimed by its listed beneficiaries for 2013 in eight regions through the DSWD’s over-the-counter scheme.

“The unutilized amount … could have been reduced had revalidation been intensified on identified beneficiaries who failed to receive the grant after every two-month payouts,” the COA said.

The state auditors said the DSWD project officers should have reported the failure of some 4Ps beneficiaries to collect their cash grants directly from the bank to improve the distribution system of the CCT program.

Intensify validation

The COA urged Soliman to order the National Project Management Office and the regional heads of the program to “intensify the validation of all unpaid beneficiaries and require prompt reporting on the status of the beneficiaries.”

“This will minimize the occurrence of unpaid grants,” it said.

In some areas, state auditors said CCT beneficiaries failed to get their cash assistance directly from Land Bank due to the cost of transportation.

High transpo cost

For example, families receiving cash assistance in far-flung communities in San Francisco, Quezon, had to spend P600 for the rent of habal-habal, or motorcycles, to collect their P500 monthly stipend.

The COA said the DSWD had directed the Land Bank and its conduits to “deliver the grants in areas where the beneficiaries will incur only P100 in transportation cost in claiming the grants.”

“The intention of the DSWD is commendable, but could not be applied to all the beneficiaries of the CCT grants numbering millions and living in different places,” it said.


FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

COA uncovers serious audit deficiencies in ‘Pantawid’ program by Ben Rosario December 25, 2014 Share this:

Double entries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries, failure to deliver P330.24 million cash dole outs, incomplete documents for dole out refunds, and release of P429.5-million cash dole out to unlisted recipients were among the serious audit deficiencies uncovered by the Commission on Audit (COA).

In COA’s 2013 annual audit report for the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), it found highly questionable transactions in the way the agency implemented the 4Ps, the Aquino administration’s centerpiece anti-poverty program.

Based on the COA report, state auditors found duplication of names of beneficiaries reflected in the payrolls, thereby, putting in serious doubt the distribution of P46.502 million to the poor.

COA also chided the DSWD for failing to deliver P330.24 million of the P10.629 billion in cash dole outs to the poor. Unclaimed grants were for distribution to beneficiaries in eight regions in the country.

“Refunds of grants in the total amount of P2.459 billion from the LBP for ineligible beneficiaries and unclaimed grants representing 6.32 percent of the CCT payroll of P38.915 billion were not completely documented to establish the correctness of recorded returned grants,” the audit agency stated.

It was recalled that state auditors have previously questioned the DSWD for releasing P429.5 million in CCT funds to 240,321 household recipients, whose names were not reflected in the official list of beneficiaries.

This audit report is contained in the 209-page report released by COA last November in connection with the checking of the validated list of the National Housing Targeting Office (NHTO).

COA said it found out that thousands of families were supposedly paid cash aid by the DSWD although none of them were listed in the NHTO.

“Grants of P429.50 million were paid to 240,321 HH (household) beneficiaries, which could not be found on the NHTO list of validated and registered beneficiaries,” the COA said.

Audit examiners also discovered a number of dubious disbursements under the DSWD’s Modified CCT (MCCT) which was began in November, 2012, to extend coverage of the poverty alleviation program to children and families that do not fall under the categories set for the regular CCT.

In the 2013 annual audit report for DSWD, COA said liquidation documents for P411.551 million distributed to poor beneficiaries have yet to be submitted for audit.

Auditors also lamented a high percentage of unpaid grants to beneficiaries due to issues on the reliability and accuracy of the database.

“We recommended that the DSWD secretary direct the national and regional management office and Pantawid directors to intensify the validation of all unpaid beneficiaries and require prompt reporting on the status of the beneficiaries in order that the corresponding changes are made to arrive at a more reliable and accurate data base,” auditors said.

They added: “This will minimize the occurrence of unpaid grants.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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