MANILA — The Department of National Defense (DND) on Saturday strongly denied reports claiming that it has misused its “Quick Reaction Funds” (QRF).
“We reiterate that the DND released and used its QRF in its mission to include capacitating stakeholders for disaster preparedness/mitigation and operations during the disaster itself. This is so that losses and damages may be limited and that conditions may be quickly normalized,” DND spokesperson Dr.Peter Paul Galvez said.
As defined under the Government Appropriations Act, the QRF is a built-in budgetary allocation that represents pre-disaster or standby funds for agencies in order to immediately assist areas stricken by catastrophes and crises.
Galvez said that the QRF allocated for the DND, as mandated, is used for mobilization and preparedness activities.
The Commission on Audit earlier claimed that a huge percentage of the DND QRF, amounting to Php 352.5 million, was misused in paying for the military’s fuel consumption and repairs of its offices rather that utilizing the money to help the victims of natural and man-made disasters.
“This DND QRF varies from the other National Government Agency QRFs which, for example, in the case of the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) QRF are used for relief goods and social services; and, likewise, the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) QRF which is used to clear and repair roads and bridges to make them passable at the soonest instance,” he said.
“Hence, critical to the mobilization so that the DND-AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) can respond is the provision of fuel for all aircraft, ships, trucks and other equipment that were placed on stand-by and which were employed for this purpose,” he said.
The DND spokesperson also said that the transport to and from the calamity-affected areas was a primordial element of any emergency response activity.
He also said that it was critical that relief goods, rescuers/responders, ancillary workers that deliver social services, repair materials, tents and communication equipment and so forth need to be transported to disaster-affected areas immediately “to overcome human sufferings.”
“In fact, during ‘Yolanda’ in November 2013, fuel allocated as war reserves were utilized as we are committed not to stop until the job is done; and this same fuel needs to be replenished,” Galvez pointed out.
Moreover, pre-disaster activities involve the organization, training, and maintenance of response units (including the AFP) for actual disaster response operations hence; funds were programmed and released for these purposes.
Galvez also said that it was essential that capacities and capabilities were enhanced, particularly for the AFP, who are among the first responders in disaster response operations, and the Office of Civil Defense, who administers the comprehensive national civil defense and disaster risk and reduction management program.