Friday, November 15, 2013

2014 budget should CARE for victims of calamities Drilon bats for P15 billion rehab fund for 2014

MANILA-To ensure that the 2014 national budget will provide for funds to assist in the reconstruction of areas devastated by recent massive calamities, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon has proposed the creation of a CARE (Calamity Assistance and Rehabilitation Effort) Fund under the proposed P2.268-trillion 2014 national budget which the Senate is set to hear next week.

"The 2014 national budget must provide for funds badly needed by our countrymen, who suffered the misfortunes brought about by the series of massive natural and man-made disasters," said Drilon.

"The magnitude of the damage caused by the recent calamities most specifically super typhoon ‘Yolanda’ is extensive. The rehabilitation aspect would require much more funds,” he added.

However, the proposed expenditures for next year, noted Drilon, did not take into account the need for massive and immediate rehabilitation of infrastructure that is set to be undertaken by the government because no one could have predicted the severe damage caused by the calamities that struck the country in the last quarter of 2013.

“I proposed the creation of a Calamity Assistance and Rehabilitation Effort, or ‘CARE’ Fund to be used exclusively for the construction of housing units, repair and rehabilitation of irrigation systems, school buildings, power infrastructures, hospitals, and public infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and government buildings,” emphasized Drilon.

The CARE is proposed to be funded with P15 billion under the 2014 national budget to be used for the rehabilitation, repair, and construction works and activities in areas devastated by typhoons Santi, Labuyo and Yolanda, 7.2 magnitude earthquake in the Visayas region, and the siege in Zamboanga City.

Drilon proposed to source the fund for the CARE from Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund which has P81.06 billion allocation for 2014.

The Senate chief asked to reduce the funding requirement for the filling up of unfilled positions by P8 billion from P35,65 billion to P27.64 billion and the funds for the creation of new positions by P7 billion from P16.07 billion to P9.07 billion.

Drilon recommended that the P15 billion CARE fund be distributed to the Department of Public Works and Highway (P6 billion) for the repair and rehabilitation of roads, bridges, government buildings, as well as the restoration of declared historical sites and structures; Department of Education (P2.75 billion) and State Universities and Colleges (P1.25 billion) for the repair of school buildings; and National Housing Authority (P1.5 billion) for the establishment of relocation sites and construction of housing units.

Likewise, Drilon has proposed to allocate P1 billion to the Department of Health for the repair of hospitals, as well as P750 million each to the Department of Energy for the restoration of power utilities and the National Irrigation Administration for the repair of irrigation systems.

Lastly, another P1 billion is being proposed to be given to local government units for the repair of rural health units and hospitals and to fund other rehabilitation programs.
His amendment said that “release of funds under this purpose shall be made directly to the appropriate implementing agencies and/or concerned local government units in accordance with the recommendation of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council and approval of the President of the Philippines.”

Drilon recalled that the same provision was applied in the 2007 General Appropriations Act 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. Drilon was the Finance committee chair at that time.


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