P3.3B available for quake victims – Abad
MANILA, Philippines – The budget department gave assurances on Friday, October 25, that there are enough funds for immediate relief requirements for the victims of the Visayas earthquake.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said in a statement that at least P3.3 billion is immediately available, addressing worries that the President's calamity fund for the year had been used up.
A week after the October 15 earthquake that heavily damaged Bohol province and affected Cebu and other nearby provinces, President Benigno Aquino III admitted that the calamity fund and contingency fund are drying up, and that he might tap into savings.
Abad himself reiterated this during the budget hearing at the Senate on Wednesday.
The 7.2-magnitude earthquake has killed around 200 brought down an estimated P867 million worth of infrastructure.
The remaining calamity and contingency funds for 2013 form a combined P1 billion, against the P7 billion that the Department of Public Works and Highways says is needed to rehabilitate damaged roads and bridges in the affected provinces.
“We are completely attuned to the urgent plight of families and communities in areas damaged by the quake,” Abad said.
Aside from the combined P1 billion from the 2013 calamity and contingency funds, P2.3 billion could be sourced from the quick response funds (QRFs) of the following implementing agencies:
Office of Civil Defense – P554 million
Office of the Secretary of the Department of National Defense – P326 million
Department of Education – P455 million
Department of Agriculture – P196 million
Department of Social Welfare and Development – P200 million
Department of Public Works and Highways – P600 million
Contingency and calamity funds are special purpose funds for “urgent projects and services to support relief and rehabilitation efforts [for] communities and areas affected by natural calamities, disasters, or humanitarian emergencies, among others.”
QRFs, on the other hand, are lodged under the budget of implementing agencies. These are designed to fund immediate assistance needs to disaster-stricken areas. – Rappler.com