Monday, November 11, 2013
Drilon asks DBM to revise 2014 budget to include P10-billion funds for rehabilitation of calamity-stricken areas
MANILA-Senate President Franklin M. Drilon sought today the creation of a special fund, amounting to at least P10 billion, in the proposed 2014 national budget that can be used to address the damages brought about by the recent calamities, including the devastating super typhoon Yolanda that wrought havoc in Central Visayas particularly Leyte, the typhoon Santi that hit Central Luzon, the siege in Zamboanga City, and as well as the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Bohol and Cebu provinces.
“We will propose for the next year budget that we should create a special fund amounting to at least P10 billion only for the rehabilitation of public infrastructure including roads and bridges, and damaged houses and power utilities,” Drilon said before the 300 delegates of the Philippine Dental Association and House of delegates’ midyear session on Monday.
Drilon emphasized that this was done in the 2007 General Appropriations Act, during which he was the Committee on Finance chairman, when the country was beset by catastrophic typhoons namely Milenyo, Paeng, Reming, and Seniang. An amount of P8 billion, lodged under the Calamity Fund, was allocated for rehabilitation, repair, and reconstruction works and activities in areas damaged by those typhoons.
“I would propose that the P2.268-trillion national budget for 2014 be reconstituted and recast in order for the government to have a rehabilitation fund which the government can tap to respond quickly to the rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure and address the need of the people greatly affected by the past calamities,” stressed Drilon.
The Senate chief said the President’s Social Fund can handle the relief operations, but what is critical is the massive rehabilitation of infrastructure which was destroyed by the recent calamities.
“I would urge the Department of Budget and Management to submit a new budget proposal which we can consider in the Senate and in the bicameral conference committee taking into account the need for funds for massive rehabilitation that we would need,” he pointed out.
He added: “This is necessary because the proposed 2014 budget clearly did not take into account the need for massive and immediate rehabilitation of infrastructure. “When this proposed budget was crafted at the start of the year, certainly nobody could have predicted the severe damages caused by the recent typhoons Yolanda and Santi, the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Bohol and Cebu and the siege in Zamboanga City.”
The DBM is in the best position to review its proposed items of expenses in 2014 budget and recast the budget so that when the General Appropriations Act of 2014 is passed, it will already reflect the fund needed for the rehabilitations of all these areas, he noted.
The Senate chief expressed confidence that the senators will realize the need to revise the budget considering that the 2014 budget that will be brought to the floor for interpellation when session resumes next week.
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