Monday, November 25, 2013

Cash-for-work pushed in a region that had 2 M jobless, underemployed prior to ‘Yolanda’

MANILA-Government should start rolling out a cash-for-work program in Yolanda-devastated areas in order to “clear and clean” communities of debris and employ those whose jobs or livelihood were also destroyed by the typhoon.

“Disaster areas need a different kind of emergency – emergency employment,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto in proposing that typhoon victims be temporarily employed so they can rebuild their own communities themselves.

“Relief shouldn't only come in grocery bags,” Recto said, “but must also be in the opportunity to be employed. If you want victims to stop displaying  ‘We need food’ placards, then hang ‘Help wanted’ signs.”

He said Yolanda merely aggravated a bleak unemployment picture in the areas it devastated. “Before Yolanda struck, the three regions of Visayas were home to 2.1 million unemployed and underemployed. One in three in the labor force was without a job or underemployed.”  

In batting for cash-for-work, Recto said government will not find a more determined volunteer force to do post-typhoon clean-up than in the victims themselves. “The victims’ sweat equity matched with government pay, that’s the best reconstruction material.” 

Recto said “mass employment” can be found in next year’s national budget. “With its huge P2.4 trillion footprint, it is a big job order document.”

In infrastructure alone, close to P400 billion has been earmarked, Recto said. This would finance the construction of P137.7 billion worth of roads, not including the P12 billion worth of farm-to-market roads that the Department of Agriculture will build.

For schools, 43,183 classrooms will be built while 9,502 will be repaired.

In agriculture, some P53 billion will be allocated, the senator said.  On irrigation alone, construction will cover 86,019 hectares of farmland.  

He said the DA will be holding “a year-round job fair” because it will be given money, not only for farm infrastructure, but for “labor intensive activities like rice and corn planting, and coconut production for which it will be given P2 billion.”    

Because ‘Yolanda’ barreled through agriculture areas, DA will have to assume the role of a job provider, Recto said. “In the case of fishermen, relief is about giving them cans of sardines. Rehabilitation is empowering them to fish again.“

But for the above capital expenditures to generate local jobs, Recto said Congress can insert provisions in the national budget that will require the recruitment of local labor.

“For example, there’s actually a law, Republic Act 6685, which requires the contractor of a government public works project to hire one-half of the unskilled labor and one-third of the skilled labor requirements from among the residents 
where it will be implemented,” he said.

Another option is for Congress to appropriate specific cash-for-work initiatives, Recto said.

He said the funding for cash-for-work for December will have to come from savings from the 2013 national budget.

“For next year, it will be a combination of specific cash-for-work programs on top of job-generating infra projects,” he said.  

Destabilization feared with China’s creation of “air defense zone” in disputed islands US criticizes China over recent move to impose new rules on airspace

MANILA-Tensions escalate anew over China’s establishment last Saturday of an “air defense identification zone” in the East China Sea including a group of uninhabited islets whose ownership has been disputed by China and Japan for decades.

Analysts are concerned that China’s move could increase the likelihood of triggering a wider armed conflict, pulling in the United States which is treaty-bound to protect Japan.

The islands, currently under control by Tokyo, are known as Senkaku in Japan, and Diaoyu in China.  With the “air defense zone” the Chinese Defense Ministry compels noncommercial aircraft entering the zone to first identify themselves to Beijing, at the risk of facing “defensive emergency measures” by Chinese armed forces.

Japan has lodged a strong protest, with its Foreign Ministry calling the move “totally unacceptable and extremely regrettable as it includes the Japanese territorial airspace over the Senkaku Islands, an inherent territory of Japan.”

The United States Defense department has likewise sharply criticized China's action to impose new rules on airspace over islands, calling it a "destabilizing attempt to alter the status quo in the region."

Beijing has grown more assertive in recent years with its territorial claims in the rest of Asia, which has resulted to heightened conflict among claimant states.

On December 5, top international experts will meet in Manila to discuss the issue of territorial maritime disputes in a roundtable discussion titled "What Is to Be Done? Resolving Maritime Disputes in Southeast Asia", organized by the Angara Centre for Law and Economics at the Marriott Hotel, Resorts World Manila.

World-renowned experts Donald Emmerson of Stanford University, Shen Dingli of Fudan University in China, Ian Storey of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, Yoichiro Sato of the Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Japan, and Professor Harry Roque of the University of the Philippines will form the distinguished panel of speakers.

Former Senator Edgardo J. Angara will keynote the event. Angara recently concluded over two decades of service in the Senate, having led the enactment of landmark laws like the Free High School Act, creation of CHED and TESDA, PhilHealth Act, Senior Citizens Act, and many others.

A former UP President, Angara initiated the creation of the UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea (UP-IMLOS), which specializes in law and policy research services for the different maritime industries—shipping, fishing, seafaring and other marine resource uses.  It also provides legal advice and policy support in all maritime fields, including marine environment protection, maritime boundaries, maritime law enforcement, maritime security, and territorial studies.

The forum and roundtable discussions will be moderated by Prof. John Nye of George Mason University, Executive Director of the Angara Centre.  The event is sponsored by Asia United Bank.

Drilon: Congress to exercise oversight functions over relief and rehab fund

MANILA-Amid growing concerns on the transparency and accountability in the use of funds intended for calamity response, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon has vowed to oversee the disbursement of relief and rehabilitation funds that the Congress had pledged to provide to national government for its aid and rebuilding programs to damages caused by recent calamities.  

“We assure that the Congress will fully carry out its oversight functions over the utilization of relief and rehabilitation funds currently being raised to support the government in addressing both the immediate and long-term needs of the people and areas victimized by the past calamitous events,” said Drilon.

“Our role as legislators also covers the monitoring of public spending to guarantee that the funds we authorize to the executive to spend are indeed spent properly and purposely,” he added.

According to Drilon, while public funds are being made available for government’s disposal, the need to monitor and fully account the funds’ flow remains.   

“We need  a source of funding flexible enough to address the objectives of relief and rehabilitation operations done by the line agencies, but still there must be systems of accountability and checks employed,” pointed out Drilon.

The Senate chief also said that they will observe the absorptive capacities of the agencies that will use these funding and if necessary, they are willing to augment the funding requirements only to ensure that all areas and all victims will be covered in the relief and rebuilding efforts.   

“We will keep an eye on the ability of the agencies dealing with disaster relief and rehabilitation activities, especially the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Social Welfare and Development, to make sure that they are able to implement the much-needed programs and projects promptly and efficiently,” said Drilon.

He said there are relevant committees that will closely monitor the funds’ utilization, and will observe the absorptive capacities of the agencies such as the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Public Expenditures.

Right now, Drilon said the priority of both the House and the Senate is to look for funds that can be tapped by the government to boost its relief and rehabilitation efforts on areas heavily damaged by the past calamities particularly super typhoon “Yolanda”.

The Congress, according to Drilon, will be allocating P55.4 billion funds to the national government to be used solely for the rehabilitation of infrastructure damaged by calamities including school buildings, power supply utilities, roads and bridges, and even houses.   

The P55.4 billion will be sourced from the proposed P14.6-billion supplemental budget using the unused Priority Development Assistance Fund which was declared unconstitutional, and the calamity-related funds which are expected to remain unobligated and unreleased estimated to be P20.8 billion by the year-end.    

The other source is the P20 billion rehabiliation fund that was already appropriated in the 2014 national budget.

The funds are on top of the regular budget for the calamity and quick response funds already in the 2014 national budget. 

AFP Welcomes 140 New Officers Female Soldiers Lead Awardees

CAMP GENERAL EMILIO AGUINALDO, Quezon City –The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) welcomes 140 new 2nd Lieutenants from the three major services; Army, Air Force and Navy as they graduate from their respective Officer Candidate Courses (OCCs) today at the AFP Theatre.

The President and AFP Commander-in-Chief, Benigno S. Aquino III attended as the Guest of Honor and Speaker. This is the first time President Aquino attended the joint graduation ceremony of the OCC. He was assisted by the AFP Chief of Staff, General Emmanuel T. Bautista, and Secretary of National Defense, Voltaire T. Gazmin in the distribution of diplomas and presentation of awards.

Receiving the Presidential Saber are Probationary 2nd Lt. (P/2LT.) Mary Jean B. Cabillete, Philippine Army (PA); P/2LT. Kristyl May A. Beatingo, Philippine Ari Force (PAF); and Probationary Ensign (P/ENS.) Vanessa Katrina J. Tulang, Philippine Navy (PN).

The Secretary of National Defense Saber is awarded to P/2LT. Shiela Mae T. Enderez, PA; P/2LT. John Red A. Honrales, PAF; and P/ENS. Tiffany Ann P. Palmares, PN.

The Chief of Staff Saber is awarded to P/2LT. Mike Vergel L. Conception, PA; P/2LT. Janna B. Ontong, PAF; and P/ENS. Eunice Fe M. Sabado, PN.

After the graduation ceremony, the 55 graduates from the Army, 40 from the Navy and 45 from the Air Force took their oath as regular military officers before General Bautista.

“The AFP that you are joining today is in the midst of a transformation. Now, you all have the responsibility of shaping and leading this transformation, in the spirit of the   vision and renewed call to reform inspired by our President,” Bautista said.

“Take pride in the uniform that you wear, and in the patriotic duty that you will perform as protector of the people and of the State, in the attainment of our vision of being a world-class armed forces, source of national pride; and in our commitment to winning just and lasting peace for our nation,” he added.

The officer candidate schools established in the three Major Services train civilians and enlisted personnel who are baccalaureate degree holders to be future members of the AFP regular force. The one-year course prepares an officer candidate with a rank of Probationary Second Lieutenant and Probationary Ensign to be mentally, physically and emotionally fit to earn a commission as an officer in the Army, Air Force, and Navy.

Budget must include funds for more C-130s

MANILA-Government   can double the number of its operational C-130 planes to six next year by earmarking P1.5 billion in the 2014 national budget.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto said the cost of refurbishing one mothballed C-130 in the Philippine Air Force inventory is P500 million.

The estimate, he said, was provided by the PAF itself.

“So if we set aside P1.5 billion in next year’s budget, then we will be able to double he number of our C-130 fleet.  And that is a very wise investment the country should make,” Recto said.

Recto said the PAF’s three C-130s have proven their mettle  by flying relief sorties in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda.

“It was the first plane to land in Tacloban after Yolanda laid waste to it. Since then the C-130s have conducted almost round-the-clock humanitarian airlift,” Recto said.

The C-130s were also among the first responders to the Bohol earthquake, he said. “And when Zamboanga was under siege, it was the C-130s who kept supplying the city with fresh troops and supplies, sometimes delivering then under enemy fire,” he said.

“The recent tragic events have proven one indisputable point : C-130s are essential transport.  They should be high up in the list of disaster response equipment.  Their purchase should be part of disaster preparation,” Recto said.

“It doesn't take a rocket genius to figure out that a disaster-prone archipelago like ours need airlift capability,” Recto said.

Repairing an “unserviceable” C-130 in the PAF stock, Recto said, even at a cost of P500 million per, is cheaper than buying a brand new C-130 which has a current price tag of $50 million or P2.2 billion.

He, however, said that government should not rule out buying brand new C-130s “if we have the money for it, and if that is what the PAF would recommend after technical review.”

Recto believes that the government, using multi-year budgeting approach, meaning the payment will be spread out in years, can raise the amount for at least two brand new C-130s.

“If we were able to arrange funding for a squadron of South Korean-made FA-50 jets, then there’s no reason why we can’t do the same to C-130s,” Recto said.

He was referring to the dozen fighter jets that the Philippines will be buying from Seoul at a cost of almost P19 billion.

From a high of 18, the number of Air Force’s “mission capable” C-130 planes has whittled down to three.

Drilon formally files resolution extending life of 2013 calamity related funds

MANILA-Senate President Franklin M. Drilon formally filed today Senate Joint Resolution No. 5 authorizing the government to use the unobligated and unreleased budget for the calamity fund and quick response funds for one more fiscal year for extensive disaster relief and rehabilitation activities to be implemented in 2014.  

Senate Joint Resolution No. 5 seeks to extend the validity of appropriations under the calamity fund, including those sourced from savings realigned in the current year, as well as all unobligated and unreleased allotments for the calamity related projects under the 2013 national budget until December 31 of next year.

Given the massive effects of the past calamities, the government may not be able to obligate funds necessary to fully implement the above measures before the end of this fiscal year,” explained Drilon.

“If they remain unobligated by the end of the year, the funds will go back to the National Treasury and could not be used anymore by the start of the next fiscal year,” he added.

The Senate chief estimated that the unused disaster-related funds will be around P20.8 billion by the end of December 31.

“Once the validity of the P20.8 billion budget is extended by the joint resolution, it could join the P14.6 billion supplemental budget and the P20 rehabilitation fund to serve as a collective P55.4 billion then available to the national government and all its agencies for the relief and rehabilitation programs throughout 2014,” Drilon said.

“It is imperative for the government to implement aggressive and continuous relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in the affected areas to enable our people and communities to recover from the damage caused by the said calamities,” he said.

Drilon pointed out that the continued use of the P20.8 billion can augment funding for massive relief and rehabilitation efforts, in light of the considerable loss of life and property caused by various devastating disasters particularly super typhoon Yolanda. 

The resolution further said that the implementing agencies shall first secure the favorable endorsement by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council of the calamity related projects that will be covered by the extended validity of allotments authorized therein. 

Expert says South China Sea compromise possible

MANILA-While the South China Sea is an arena of escalating conflict, it is not too late to work out some compromise amongst all claimants. 

According to Shen Dingli of Fudan University in Shanghai, China needs to understand its historical rights in the South China Sea may not include permanent fishing rights in the entire area, and that this is especially the case since the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) came into being.

In the same vein, China’s neighbors need to understand that by explicitly or implicitly accepting China’s pervasive sovereignty claim over all features and adjacent area, their occupation of some of the features in the South China Sea also leaves them in a legally vulnerable position. Simply insisting on one’s own rights even when they cut across the rights of others, and simultaneously accusing China of economic encroachment, will not work. A sound pragmatic solution is to find common ground with China, so a mutually acceptable trade of interests can eventually be peacefully figured out.

Shen will speak at a roundtable discussion organized by the Angara Centre for Law and Economics titled "What Is to Be Done? Resolving Maritime Disputes in Southeast Asia" on December 5 at the Marriott Hotel, Resorts World Manila. The event is sponsored by Asia United Bank.

The event will be keynoted by former Senator Edgardo J. Angara, the longest serving Senator in the post-EDSA Senate and who recently concluded over two decades of distinguished service as a Philippine legislator. He led the passage of landmark laws on agriculture, education, health, arts and culture, science and technology, good governance, financial reforms, and social welfare.

A former UP President, Angara also spearheaded the creation of the UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea (UP-IMLOS), a highly specialized academic research institution based in the UP Law Center devoted to maritime affairs.

Other featured speakers include Donald Emmerson of Stanford University, Ian Storey of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, Yoichiro Sato of the Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Japan, and Professor Harry Roque of the University of the Philippines.

The forum and roundtable discussions will be moderated by Prof. John Nye of George Mason University, Executive Director of the Angara Centre. 

Expert says joint explorations could be a legal trap

MANILA-As seabed resources are often seen as the source of conflicts in disputed waters, joint exploration and development between the disputing countries is often proposed as a win-win solution or at least a confidence-building measure.

However, Dr. Yoichiro Sato of the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS), Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, asserts that actual practices in South and East China Seas reveal that joint exploration and development proposals are not only economically motivated, but also made with intentions to set a legal precedence to advance the country’s claim to the disputed water. As such, they too are the manifestations of the conflicts, rather than solutions to the conflicts.

Earlier, China has sought a joint exploration with the Philippines as “a practical approach in resolving the maritime dispute”. But the Philippines has taken a guarded approach to the proposal as a joint exploration on the contested waters could just be a legal and diplomatic trap.

Sato will speak at a roundtable discussion organized by the Angara Centre for Law and Economics titled "What Is to Be Done? Resolving Maritime Disputes in Southeast Asia" on December 5 at the Marriott Hotel, Resorts World Manila.

Former Senator Edgardo J. Angara, who recently ended two decades of notable service as a Philippine legislator, will serve as keynote speaker in the forum. A former UP president, Angara led the creation of the UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea (UP-IMLOS), a highly specialized academic research institution based in the UP Law Center devoted to maritime affairs.

Other featured speakers include Donald Emmerson of Stanford University, Shen Dingli of Fudan University in China, Ian Storey of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, and Professor Harry Roque of the University of the Philippines.

The forum and roundtable discussions will be moderated by Prof. John Nye of George Mason University, Executive Director of the Angara Centre.

The event is sponsored by Asia United Bank.

Legarda to Share Phl Experience in Closing Gender Gap at Global Forum in Brussels

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda is President Benigno Aquino III’s representative at the Women in Parliaments - Global Forum Annual Summit and will receive, on behalf of the Filipino people, the prestigious Award for Leadership on Closing the Gender Gap (Winner by Region: Southeast Asia) at awarding ceremonies that will be held on November 27, 2013 at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium.

On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (celebrated every 25th of November), Legarda will be in Brussels to share with women parliamentarians the Philippine experience in fighting for women’s rights and closing gender gap.

“Foremost, we wish to share our initiatives on giving Filipino women equal opportunities in all sectors of society, upholding women’s rights, and eliminating violence against women and girls,” she said.

“We also wish to send to other countries the Filipino nation’s deep gratitude for all they have given to us in support of our recovery efforts in the wake of Typhoon Yolanda. With their help, we can more quickly rebuild our communities,” she added. 

The Philippines has a multitude of laws for the protection of women and Legarda authored and sponsored many of these including the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act (RA 9262); the Magna Carta of Women (RA 9710); the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act (RA 9208) and its strengthened version (RA 10364); and the Domestic Workers Act (RA 10361).

“Our message is clear: we must provide women the needed support to have the confidence to lead efforts to improve our communities and take initiatives that will contribute to the nation’s progress as well as to global development,” said Legarda.

The Senator will also meet with EU parliamentarians and EU Commissioners on the sidelines of the Conference and join the Filipino community in Brussels for the Bayanihan for Typhoon Yolanda event.

DOLE confers Tripartite Certificate on Labor Standards to 11 CL firms

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga-A total of 11 firms in Central Luzon became the first recipients of the Tripartite Certificate of Compliance on Labor Standards (TCCLS) given by Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
Recipients were Anvaya Cove Beach and Nature Club from Bataan, Chun Chiang Enterprises Manufacturing Company from Bataan, International Wiring Systems Philippines Corporation from Tarlac, Mekeni Food Corporation from Pampanga, ON Semiconductor SSMP Philippines Corporation from Tarlac, Petron Freeport Corporation from Subic Bay Freeport, Petron San Fernando Depot from Pampanga, Pharmatechnical Laboratory Inc. from Bulacan, Subic EnerZone from Subic Bay Freeport, Trust International Paper Corporation from Pampanga, and Essilor Manufacturing Philippines from Bataan.
“TCCLS is given to companies which show commitment and exemplary adherence to provisions on General Labor Standards, Occupational Safety and Health Standards, the Child Labor Law under Republic Act 9231, industrial peace, and enterprise stability and competitiveness,” DOLE Regional Director Raymundo Agravante said.
“This is the first level seal of good housekeeping issued to enrolled establishments per DOLE Department Order No. 115-A Series of 2012,” Agravante added.
TCCLS is a requirement to qualify for the Gawad Kaligtasan at Kalusugan (GKK) and Child Labor-Free Establishment (CLFE) and DOLE Secretary’s Labor Law Compliance Awards as well as to the highest distinction, the Tripartite Seal of Excellence (TSE).
“The Secretary’s Award can be acquired when the TCCLS, GKK, and CLFE are obtained by an establishment. I am confident that our eleven awardees will continuously work hand in hand with the DOLE to achieve this feat,” Agravante said.
Officials and members of Central Luzon’s Regional Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (RTIPC) selected the winners through a tripartite audit process, on-site validation, and assessment. (Carlo Lorenzo J. Datu)

NOLCOM eyes use of its camps as evacuation centers during calamities

CAMP AQUINO, Tarlac City-Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) is eyeing the utilization of its Army, Air Force, and Naval camps as evacuation centers during calamities.
“Learning from the experiences of four strong tropical disturbances that directly hit our area of responsibility (AOR) this year namely Labuyo, Maring, Odette, and Santi as well as from Super Typhoon Yolanda, I realized that our camps can serve as temporary shelters of survivors since we have big spaces and are far from flooded and landslide places,” NOLCOM Commander Lieutenant General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. said.
“Instead of airlifting or transferring them to neighboring towns or provinces because their houses and even designated evacuation centers had been severely damaged, why not let them stay in military camps where they will not only be given food but medical treatment as well? I will direct all of my commanders up to the battalion level to be prepared to accept evacuees. We will ask funds for this,” Catapang added.
“Camp Aquino and Fort Magsaysay alone can each accommodate up to 200 families while clearing operations and early recovery efforts are ongoing,” the military unified command chief pointed out.
Meanwhile, Catapang disclosed that they are currently making furniture out of trees in Camp Aquino that were downed by typhoon Santi last month.
Proceeds from the sale of such items would go to the survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda, Central Visayas earthquake, and Zamboanga siege.
NOLCOM consists of the Army’s 5th and 7th Infantry Divisions, which are based in Isabela and Nueva Ecija respectively; Naval Forces Northern Luzon, which is based in La Union; and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Tactical Operations Groups of the 1st Air Division of the Air Force. (Carlo Lorenzo J. Datu)

Army’s 24IB holds successful intel operation vs NPA remnants in Zambales

CANDELARIA, Zambales-The 24th Infantry Battalion (24IB) of the Philippine Army was recently commended by the Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) for a successful intelligence operation against remnants of PNS Tarzam of the New People’s Army (NPA) in barangay Pinagrealan in Candelaria, Zambales.
Under the leadership of Captain Ramon Rayala and 1st Lieutenant Wilson Usman Jr., the November 18 operations led to the recovery of two M16-A1 rifles, assorted military items, communication equipment, and subversive documents.
“This showed the importance of military intelligence operations in gathering accurate information and cooperation with the residents against the NPA remnants,” NOLCOM Commander Lieutenant General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. said.
“This bespeaks well of 24IB’s adherence to what is expected of a soldier as specified in my Command guidance Kawal ay Disiplinado, Bawal Abusado Dapat Asintado that resulted in zero collateral damage and casualty on our troops and civilians in the community,” Catapang added. (Carlo Lorenzo J. Datu)

Drilon: Rehab fund totals P55.4 billion in 2014

MANILA-Senate President Franklin M. Drilon assured today that at least P55.4 billion will be made available to government in 2014 for its relief and long-term rehabilitation efforts on areas hit by recent calamities particularly super typhoon "Yolanda".

"In view of the considerable loss of life and property in several disaster-stricken parts of the country, a calamity response fund amounting to a total of P55.4 billion will be handed at the government’s disposal to perk up its capacity to respond sufficiently and fast to immediate needs of victims of past disastrous events," said Drilon.

The proposed P55.4-billion rehabilitation fund will be sourced from the unobligated funds in the 2013 national budget, unused 2013 Priority Development Assistance Fund which was recently declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and the 2014 national budget.

Drilon explained the House and Senate agreed to pass a P14.6-billion supplemental budget where the source will be the unutilized PDAF and a joint resolution extending for one more fiscal year the validity of calamity-related funds in the current budget amounting to P20.8 billion which remain unobligated by the end of the year.

Drilon noted that initiatives towards the immediate enactment of the proposals are already underway and will hopefully be approved in the coming weeks before the Congress adjourns on December 21.

“The Senate and the House of Representatives will file a joint resolution extending the validity of the P 20.8-billion calamity fund in the 2013 budget for an another year, while the Bureau of Treasury has already issued a certification for the P14.6-billion supplemental budget to be sourced from the unused 2013 PDAF, thereby making them both available for this proposed calamity response fund,” said Drilon.   

Once approved, together, these funds will be joined by the previously proposed P20-billion rehabilitation and reconstruction fund under the 2014 national budget, thus the amount of P55.4 billion, he added.

The Senate chief noted the P55.4 billion is on top of the regular appropriations for calamity and quick response funds under the proposed P2.268-trillion national budget for 2014.        

“The President has already assured us of his complete support for the urgent passage of these proposed measures, which he will certify as urgent,” he added.     

With such a significant amount of funding to be handed at the government’s disposal, Drilon said the government will be fully equipped to rebuild the provinces ravaged by the calamities.

"The intended beneficiaries of these funds are those whose lives, homes and livelihood have been severely damaged by the recent calamities. We owe them our most urgent and prudent response," Drilon emphasized.

The rehabilitation funds will be used mostly to rehabilitate and repair various infrastructure including school building and heritage structure that were destroyed by the past disasters including super typhoon Yolanda that wrought havoc in Central Visayas particularly Leyte, the typhoon Santi and Labuyo that hit Luzon, the siege in Zamboanga City, and as well as the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Bohol and Cebu provinces. 


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