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Letters to the Editor

‘Yolanda’ operations no ‘epic failure’

/ 11:10 PM October 04, 2015

THIS REFERS to Gil Cabacungan’s news report titled, “COA: DSWD relief, unused cash donations, epic failure” (Front Page, 9/13/15).

We appreciate that the article made mention of the audit report of the Commission on Audit (COA) as well as of the response of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

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However, the title of the article and some of the phrases used therein sounded conclusive of the DSWD as an “epic failure” during the “Yolanda” disaster operations, according to the COA. The article even attributed the failure to “abysmal management,” and stated that “The Commission on Audit has cited total and spectacular failure on the job of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.”

We take exception to the use of the term “total and spectacular failure.” It should be emphasized, for example, that the COA reported 1,872 double-entry Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries, but only 211 of these were delisted after they were found to be duplicates—that’s 0.004 percent of the 4.4 million beneficiaries, meaning, 99.99996 percent were not duplicates.

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Also, as of Sept. 14, 2015, only 16.80 percent of Yolanda cash donations were left. However, these have been already allocated for projects such as supplementary feeding and tourism development.

Although the “shortfalls” constitute a small percentage of the whole, we take them seriously. But, to be sure, it is unfair and inaccurate to describe them as a “total and spectacular failure.”

Please note, too, that the observations made by the COA in the audit report are not conclusive statements confirming that irregularities had been actually committed. These were made as part of the government routine to provide a check-and-balance mechanism and enhance operations.

Furthermore, the COA report never claimed that relief goods were rotting. The COA is very careful with its word choice because it knows that its audit observations are cited by the media. We hope that the Inquirer will not attribute to the COA statements it never makes in its report. To do so would be to distort the truth.

We would also like to clarify that Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman never blamed anyone; she merely clarified the observations made by the commission.

The allegations and misconceptions do not give justice and recognition to the DSWD staff and volunteers who toiled long hours, risked life and limb—or were in fact injured—and put the needs of the survivors over and above their own safety during the disaster relief operations.

We hope that the Inquirer—as a newspaper that proclaims integrity as one of its core values—will uphold fair and balanced journalism, and when examining issues, look at them with unbiased eyes.

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—JAVIER R. JIMENEZ,
assistant secretary
and spokesperson,
Department of Social Welfare and Development

We stand corrected. The COA report didn’t use the phrase “epic failure” which was printed between quotation marks as though it had. Our apology for our “epic failure.”—Ed.

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TAGS: Commission on Audit, Dinky Soliman, DSWD, Yolanda
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