DBM readies P1.9B for calamity areas
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) will prioritize the release of the remaining P1.9 billion in this year’s calamity fund to areas heavily battered by the recent string of strong typhoons.
Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado told the Inquirer on Thursday that there was P3.6 billion in the 2020 national disaster risk reduction and management fund (NDRRMF) which was still unreleased, but the Department of Public Works Highways will get P1 billion on top of the Office of Civil Defense’s P182 million, leaving a running balance of P1.9 billion.
Avisado nonetheless said the remaining amount could be quickly released to address the damage wrought by Typhoons “Quinta,” “Rolly” and “Ulysses.”
The P4.1-trillion 2020 national budget had set aside a total of P16 billion for the NDRRMF, of which the bulk or P7.5 billion covered the national disaster risk reduction and management program (NDRRMP).
Mainly for COVID-19
Budget documents showed that the end-October releases under the NDRRMP mainly covered response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also included in this year’s NDRRMF were P3.5 billion for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of war-torn Marawi City, on top of P5 billion for the comprehensive aid to repair earthquake damage allocated for the Davao and Soccsksargen regions flattened by strong quakes last year.
On Tuesday, Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said typhoons Quinta, Rolly and Siony inflicted P38.8 billion in damage or 0.21 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
Typhoon Rolly alone, which battered Bicol Region last week, caused P24 billion in damage or 0.13 percent of GDP, Chua said.
Appeal for more funds
Camarines Sur Second District Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte on Thursday appealed to President Duterte to supplement the “almost, if not completely, drained” calamity funds of local government units (LGUs) hit by the recent typhoons.
Villafuerte asked the Department of Budget and Management “to augment the depleted calamity funds” of the badly hit provinces of Bicol, the Southern Tagalog region and other areas in Luzon.
Villafuerte renewed his call to Congress to set aside a far bigger amount of calamity funds in the proposed 2021 General Appropriations Act (GAA).
He said “a lion’s share of his proposed bigger calamity budget in next year’s GAA should go to relief and rehabilitation work” in areas devastated by typhoons Quinta, Rolly and Ulysses.
“I am appealing to the President and the DBM to supplement the respective disaster risk reduction and management funds of LGUs in the badly hit places of CamSur and elsewhere in Bicol and Southern Luzon for their immediate relief and rehabilitation operations,” he said in a statement.
Villafuerte said that even before the onslaught of the typhoons, the calamity funds of the LGUs in badly hit places were probably depleted already, having been used for their respective localities’ COVID-19 efforts.
Camarines Sur and other Bicol provinces, he said, have “suffered the fourfold blow” by the lingering COVID-19 outbreak, and typhoons Quinta and Rolly and Ulysses.
“The affected LGUs are in dire need of calamity fund augmentation so they could attend to the immediate food and shelter needs of their respective constituents, especially those who have lost their homes partially or completely, and who now remain stuck in evacuation centers with nowhere else to go,” Villafuerte said.
“The grave problem facing local executives at this time is how to continuously feed the dislocated families and help them rebuild their homes amid their LGUs’ already depleted calamity funds,” he said.
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