By Raymund Antonio
Vice President Leni Robredo has asserted that the government should have been more responsible in releasing and utilizing the funds allocated for the rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi City.
Robredo, who is the leader of the opposition, issued the statement after P406.5 million in 2018 Marawi rehabilitation funds expired and reverted to the National Treasury.
“So we ask: what happened?” she said in her remarks before the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) in Makati City.
The vice president cited P10 billion had been originally earmarked for the conflict-stricken area, P5.1 billion of which had yet to be released at the end of 2018.
Based on the latest data from the Department of Budgement and Management (DBM), Robredo noted special allotment release orders (SAROs) for P4.4 billion worth of projects were released last year.
“Around P2.7 billion of which was issued on a single day—December 26, 2019, the second-to-the-last working day of the year. How do you ensure that it does not go back to the National Treasury? You need a notice of award by the last working day of the year—Dec. 27, 2019,” Robredo said.
“Imagine if the projects amounting to P2.7 billion, which was allocated for housing under the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highway), had been approved at the start of 2019,” she added.
Robredo has been very vocal over the delay in spending the funds and slow rehabilitation of Marawi City two years after the siege amid the concerns of affected residents and sectors.
The Office of the Vice President has been providing assistance to Marawi, which is among the beneficiaries of its flagship anti-poverty program, Angat Buhay.
With its limited resources, Robredo’s office and its private partners built the Angat Buhay Village, which provided 72 transition shelters for displaced residents.
“If we compare this amount to our Angat Buhay Village, P2.7 billion would have meant 16,200 more shelters and 16,200 more families given homes,” the vice president said.