By Christina Erbon

State auditors have flagged the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the reported undistributed donations that were discovered to be expired, rotting, and destroyed by rats.

Photo Courtesy Eloisa Lopez/Reuters/DSWD

The Commission of Audit (COA) reported in its 2021 annual audit report that the department's Field Office II in the Cagayan Valley region received a total of 126,172 in-kind donations from various contributors from late 2020 to early 2021, but failed to deliver 21,824 of them.

The donations included food and medicines that had not been distributed as of the end of 2021, more than a year after the agency received them.

“During the inspection, we observed that 223 sachets of milk/choco powder in particular were already expired and destroyed by rats while 1,434 bottles/tablets of medicines are about to expire in April 2022. For canned goods, though not yet expired, they were exposed to rotting and damage,” COA said in its report.

Moreover, the Regional Resource Operation Section (RROS), which was responsible for distributing 30,656 non-food products and 8,140 food items, failed to submit reports to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

“The transparency and accountability in the use of aid/donations was significantly affected, especially that this has become an issue of considerable importance for donors and the public,” the audit team noted.

In response, the RROS claimed that it was overwhelmed by the number of donations that it opted not to document them anymore, with the RROS head claiming that they were unaware such reporting was required.

Meanwhile, the DSWD informed the audit team that the Disaster Response Management Division (DRMD) chief had been directed to urgently distribute undistributed donations to deserving beneficiaries.

The DSWD also stated that they had urged the DRMD and the RROS to strictly adhere to COA circulars regulating donation distribution and accounting.

Edited by Audrei Jeremy Mendador