MANILA—The Department of National Defense (DND) on Monday maintained that repairs and reconstruction of military facilities, which were earlier said by the Commission on Audit as not in accordance with the purpose of the Quick Reaction Fund (QRF), was done to ensure that these installations can be utilized by humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions (HADR) personnel affected by calamities.
In the same vein, DND public affairs chief Arsenio Andolong added that these activities are aimed at normalizing areas severely affected by disasters.
“The construction/repair of AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) camps and facilities were undertaken to address the damage sustained during calamities such as Typhoons Santi, Glenda, and Yolanda, among others. It was necessary that certain offices and facilities of the AFP be immediately rehabilitated or repaired so as not to hamper their response to HADR missions,” he added.
“As to the release of QRF to various implementing agencies with unliquidated fund transfers, the DND saw the need to urgently transfer funds given the extraordinary circumstances at that time. There was a need to strike a balance between policy and urgency of requirements in order to restore public service and provide support to damaged facilities in disaster-affected areas,” Andolong stressed.
An example is supporting the petroleum, oil, and lubricant (POL) requirements of various equipment of the AFP out of the DND QRF, he added.
Andolong noted that POL for HADR missions is not included in the regular AFP budget.
“On the items procured out of the QRF that were marked by COA as overpriced, we reiterate our position that the use of retail prices, instead of wholesale prices, was necessitated by the fact that the procurement was on a small scale, thus big companies did not show interest in joining the bidding process. Furthermore, the urgency of the situation required that the items related to disaster response and relief, such as personal protective equipment, medicines, medical supplies, and purified water be made available immediately,” Andolong pointed out.
“Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana nonetheless issued guidance for relevant offices to conduct a review on the items raised in the COA consolidated report,” he added.
Earlier, the auditing body said the DND made improper charges in QRF and non-observance of regulations regarding fund transfers to offices with unsettled cash accountabilities.
“The utilization of funds amounting to PHP73,929,934.91 for repairs/reconstruction, using the QRF, was not in accordance with the intended purpose of the QRF as authorized in the DND’s budget,” the COA said.
It also clarified that the QRF is strictly earmarked for immediate needs for relief and rescue during calamities. (PNA)