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Diocese hits Iligan City gov’t response to Typhoon Sendong

MANILA, Jan. 17, 2012— A Roman Catholic diocese has criticized Iligan City government’s response in the relief efforts to Typhoon Sendong and its aftermath.

Atty. Leo Saragoza, legal counsel of the Diocese of Iligan, said the criticism consisted primarily of condemnations of mismanagement and the lack of preparation in the relief effort.

The diocese, he said, questioned the slow spending of the P360 million funding for the rehabilitation efforts for the victims of the typhoons in an area under a state of calamity for a month now.

“To my shock and surprise, as of January 9, the amount spent by the city was only P4.7 million,” Saragoza said over Manila archdiocese-run Radyo Veritas Tuesday.

“I was among the victims and that’s why I was so furious because it seems that they are not doing anything,” he said.

To date, according to him, the situation of victims in evacuation centers remains “tragic” with at least seven people already lost their sanity.

“Who will not lost sanity in a situation wherein you already lost your house or a family member, and then you will stay in one room with 20 to 15 families for 31 days now to be exact,” he said.

Last January 9, concerned groups and individuals including Church officials met and discussed the issue with Iligan City Mayor Lawrence Cruz.

Saragoza said the mayor cited the standard accounting procedures of the Commission on Audit as the reason for the slow disbursement of funds.

“One of the conditions once the state of calamity declared, the standard accounting procedures are set aside for a need to answer the immediate need of the people,” he said.

“It’s really maddening and disappointing! They’re so slow,” Saragoza exclaimed.

The lawyer called on Aquino administration to do something on the issue for the welfare of the typhoon victims.

“We need a sort of pressure from Malacañang and find out what have been done to the donations. Right now, I think many donors are hoping that their help already reached the victims,” he said.

“We would like to inform them that it’s not the case here. Some aids reached the victims but it’s too minimal,” said Saragoza.

But the lawyer clarified that the issue is not corruption because the hefty funding is intact at the bank.

“We’ve seen the bank statements,” he said. “We are angry because the money received for sure was given by the donors for immediate response.” [CBCPNews]