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City answers COA findings on relief wastage

MAASIN CITY – The Commission on Audit (COA) in its 2022 audit report released last April 27, 2023 stated that the local government of Maasin City allegedly mishandled the perishable foodstuffs for disaster relief, leading to their spoilage and wastage of close to a million pesos.
In an interview with City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) Maasin officer, Jhade Bestudio, she clarified that the report “was misleading”. She said that in Maasin City’s actual inventory of damaged goods, there were 240 cans of sardines, 9 cans of corned beef and 24 packs of noodles reportedly wasted with an estimated cost of P7,365.
“There were damaged goods because of the small facility, the goods were piled up that some of the containers bulged causing the leak, and the bad smell in the facility and the packed noodles burst,” Bestudio related.
Bestudio also said that the remaining goods were distributed and some ready to be disposed of during the conduct of the Food for Work Program in seven barangays in the city.
“Due to the request by the barangay for volunteer work, we were able to provide food assistance to the families.”
“A total of P98,749.86 goods were found missing during the counting, and it was not counted as loss, pilferage, and spoilage.These goods were with our supplier upon LGU’s request because we lack the standard warehouse/storage area,” Bestudio added.
In a comment dated February 22, 2023, OIC-CSWDO officer stated that the stand-by goods for distribution “were not placed in a favorable storage area due to the fact that the city government lacks a permanent storage room/storage facility.”
“The facility we used for storing had roofing leakage due to Super Typhoon Odette in December 2021. However, we have managed to clean up the storage and our engineers made some roofing repairs,” Bestudio said.
Bestudio also disclosed that after the audit, the office conducted plans by installing another storage room in Barangay Rizal, and the reconstruction is ongoing to ensure that the goods are safe against loss, spoilage, and wastage.
In the COA 2022 audit report, the government auditors found that part of its Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund was used to procure groceries and other ready-to-cook meals. The P1.182 million allocation were said to be for canned sardines, beef loaf, corned beef, instant noodles, and purified water. Of this amount only P199,500 worth of the goods from the calamity funds were given during the year. This left a total of P982,400 worth in stock. The auditors said that these were listed as “welfare goods for distribution.”
The auditors conducted onsite inspections at the storage facilities in purok Bangkal in barangay Rizal and at the Liga ng mga Barangay building in barangay Combado. The inspecting team concluded that both sites were unfit to store perishables.
COA recommended to the City Mayor to provide for an adequate and proper permanent storage area for all welfare goods.
This was duly noted by the City Mayor and will immediately be acted upon, according to the Comment signed by Salvador Valdez, addressed to COA Supervising Auditor Ma. Nineveh Duarte.
By RCabodbod

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