Senate OKs P14.6-B supplemental budget
MANILA, Philippines – Voting 15-0, the Senate on Wednesday, December 4, approved on 3rd and final reading the P14.6-billion supplemental budget for disaster rehabilitation and reconstruction programs, a day after the House passed its own version of the measure.
The amount will be sourced from lawmakers' remaining Priority Development Assistance Fund for 2013, which effectively turned into savings after the Supreme Court declared the discretionary fund as unconstitutional.
It will be used for rehabilitation programs for areas affected by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), as well as previous disasters and calamities, including typhoons Labuyo, Odette, Pablo, Sendong, Santi, Vinta and Yolanda; the earthquake in Bohol and Cebu; and the Zamboanga City siege.
“Given the magnitude of the damage caused by the past disasters, it is our obligation as your legislators to ensure that the government will have adequate funds to perk up its capacity to respond sufficiently to the immediate needs of the victims of recent disastrous events," Senate President Franklin Drilon said in a statement.
Of the amount, P11.2 billion will be used to bolster the calamity fund of the President while the remaining P3.4 billion will go to the Quick Response Fund of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, said Senate finance committee chairman Francis Escudero.
During the interpellation on the floor, Escudero said the P11.2 billion will be allocated to the following:
- National Housing Authority for housing assistance to displaced families – P5.5 billion
- Coconut rehabilitation – P1.8 billion
- Banca and fishing paraphernalia – P1.66 billion
- Guarantees for loans extended by microfinancing institutions through the Landbank of the Philippines – P1.3 billion
- Clearing operations – P400 million
- Water supply – P200 million
- Fuel subsidy – P100 million
- Farm tools – P100 million
- Seeds – P100 million
- Assistance to enterprises through the Philippine Export-Import Credit Agency – P40 million.
The Senate introduced minor amendments to House Bill 3423 on requiring quarterly reports on the use of the funds to be posted on the budget department's website.
Escudero said he expects the House to adopt the Senate version of the bill, avoiding the need for a bicameral conference committee hearing.
Should the House decide not to, a bicam is scheduled on December 10. It will be open to the public, Escudero said.
Earlier, both chambers of Congress also passed a resolution extending the validity of the President’s calamity fund and departments’ Quick Response Funds (QRF) in the 2013 budget for calamity-related purposes. The amount is pegged at P12 billion. – Angela Casauay/Rappler.com