February 20, 2013
Mr. CARLOS CONDE
Dear Mr. Conde:
This refers to the article written by your reporter, Marilou Aguirre-Tuburan, entitled
“Pablo victims call for DSWD Sec. Soliman’s ouster” posted in your website on February 12, 2013.
While we truly appreciate and thank you for bringing out this issue in the interest of transparency and accountability, we would like to express our dismay that our side has not been duly solicited. Your newspaper has published another story (More irregularities in DSWD rehab for Pablo victims raised, February 15, by John Rizle Saligumba) on similar issues raised in the article of Ms. Tuburan but there have been no write up explaining our side in these articles. In the interest of fairness, we hope that you will publish this letter to the editor clarifying the different issues raised against the Department.
The issue on padded payroll involves the case of father and son Romulo and Remly Serot, who worked as construction workers for the DSWD bunkhouses. The Serots claim possible forgery and falsification of documents in the project as it was indicated in the payroll that they were paid for 12-days when they only worked for one day and three days, respectively.
We would like to clarify that there is no padded payroll in the construction of bunkhouses for typhoon “Pablo” victims because the document signed by workers is a job order form and not a payroll.
The construction of bunkhouses in Compostela Valley was done through “pakyaw” contract (package deal) and/or through the local government. The labor cost per program of work and offered for contract is P70,000 per bunkhouse. A “pakyaw” contractor who is interested to participate will organize his group (10 or more people) and is offered a job order where each member of the pakyaw group will sign to indicate their acceptance of the job order.
Further, the members of the “pakyaw” group is not under nor paid directly by DSWD but by their contractor. Once the contract is completed the DSWD will pay the contractor the full amount of P70,000, and the contractor will be responsible for payment of his workers. No payroll has been tampered, faked or padded, since the document allegedly containing the signatures of Romulo and Remly Serot is not a payroll, but a job order.
Arnold Sembrano, the contractor contracted by the DSWD to build two bunkhouses in Compostela town, Compostela Valley gave his testimony on the issue. He hired Romulo and Remly Serot to work as skilled and unskilled laborers, respectively. As a skilled worker, Romulo would be paid P300 per day while Remly as unskilled worker would receive P200 per day.
According to Sembrano, on the first week of operations, Romulo worked only for one day, thus receiving P300 while Remly worked for three days and was paid P600.
On the second week of operations, Romulo and Remly were unable to report for work. Since they did not report for work anymore, Sembrano would have deleted their names in the job order form but because of his haste to submit the job order form which was already being asked by the DSWD, he failed to erase their names.
The wage for the extra days indicated opposite the names of Romulo and Remly were paid to the workers who replaced them, but whose names were not entered in the job order form.
Sembrano also clarified that DSWD staff have nothing to do with whatever arrangements he made with his workers and laborers saying that as contractor he was the one who negotiated with the workers their daily wage.
Romulo admitted that he worked for one day on a bunkhouse being constructed by DSWD in Compostela Valley and was paid P300 by the contractor.
We would also like to explain that the issues being raised by Barug Katawhan, a group of typhoon “Pablo” victims who staged protests against the Department, are baseless, unfounded, and inaccurate.
Barug Katawhan’s claim that the Department is inept in managing the needs of typhoon “Pablo” victims is unfair because relief distribution is still on-going while rehabilitation efforts have already started. As of February 14, the Department has distributed P474,022,690.00 worth of relief goods to 233,354 families. Likewise, the Department has released P24,633,000.00 to fund the cash-for-work program. No less than the Barangay Captains in the affected areas attest that relief goods were indeed distributed to affected families.
We would like to reiterate our call to Barug Katawhan to first comply with the agreed conditions before the Department will release their request for 10,000 sacks of rice.
Demanding a list of recipients for the rice assistance has nothing to do with the military’s action against the so called communist groups. The list is a vital document to be submitted to the Commission on Audit for post-auditing.
The military is our partner in our rehabilitation efforts along shelter construction especially for victims of disasters and armed conflicts in Central Mindanao, Region XII, and in the aftermath of typhoon “Sendong” in Region X.
On the issue of calamity fund, we are still using our Quick Response Fund (QRF) of P400M in 2012, and P662M in 2013 plus local and foreign donations in sustaining relief and rehabilitation efforts for typhoon Pablo victims. This is contrary to Barug Katawhan’s claim that we have a calamity fund of P18 billion.
Again, there is no overpricing in the bunkhouses built in Compostela Valley. In our previous statement we already explained that based on a comparative matrix, the cost estimates made by both DSWD and IOM are more or less the same. The difference in total cost was mainly due to varying design features. The DSWD bunkhouse is bigger in floor area, it has thicker floor slabs (1 inch thicker), with more roofing (159 GI sheets while IOM has 96 GI sheets), with pathway, wash areas, kitchen, toilet and bathroom compared to the IOM bunkhouse which has no provisions for pathway, electrical, kitchen and concrete wash, and toilet and bathroom. The DSWD bunkhouse also includes 12% tax in materials which is not present in the IOM bunkhouse. We have attached photos for you to see the difference
Once again, we would like to assure the public that all transactions and activities of the regional office on relief and rehabilitation efforts are supported by documents which are submitted to the Commission on Audit for Post-Audit. We have requested the COA in region 11 to conduct a post audit on the bunkhouse project and it is currently being done. Rest assured that should there be findings of irregularities, the DSWD will sanction the accountable personnel.
Very truly yours,