Gov’t OKs P1-B for ‘Sendong’ victims

The additional amount will be sourced from government savings.

MANILA, Philippines – President Beningo Aquino III has directed the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to add P1 billion to the Calamity Fund before the end of the year to ensure “full support” for relief and rehabilitation work in areas hard-hit by typhoon Sendong.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said in a press statement that the P1-billion augmentation will be funded by government savings and unreleased appropriations under the 2011 budget.

“By plugging more resources into the Calamity Fund, we can guarantee full support of ongoing relief and rehabilitation activities in Sendong-affected areas, including Cagayan de Oro and Iligan,” Abad said.

He said the remaining balance in the Calamity Fund will be used to “immediately implement” disaster-management and rehabilitation projects in Visayas and Northern Mindanao, including Cagayan de Oro, Iligan City, Negros Oriental, Lanao del Norte,  Misamis Oriental, and Surigao del Sur.

“The Aquino administration is moving at full throttle to direct urgent assistance to affected areas. The DBM is now working with other government agencies to ensure the safety and well-being of the victims and to restore essential services to communities felled by Sendong,” Abad said.

He confirmed that the Department of Social Welfare and Development will receive P521.2 million for Early Recovery Services for Sendong victims in Negros Oriental, Misamis Oriental, and Lanao del Norte, specifically for for the Modified Shelter Assistance Project, Cash for Work, and Livelihood Assistance initiative.

Abad also said that P208.6 million will be released to the Department of Public Works and Highways for the immediate repair of damaged bridges and roads in Negros Oriental and Lanao del Norte, including Mandulog Bridges 1 and 2 in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, and Tanjay Bridge in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will get P150 million for the production and installation of 1,000 automatic water level sensors in 18 river basins across the country. Priority will be given to the Cagayan de Oro River, the Iponan River, and Iligan City water systems.

Abad added that the P52.8 million will be channeled to the Local Water Utilities Administration for the quick rehabilitation of water systems in Cagayan de Oro, and that of the amount, P32.4 million will fund repairs for source-and-production facilities, while P20.4 million will be used to restore service connections to concessionaires.

Incalculable damage

Malacañang released on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011, Proclamation 303, which President Aquino signed on Tuesday, declaring a state of national calamity, citing the “incalculable damage” to the lives and properties of Filipinos.

Citing the “severe gravity of the damage,” the President said that “the government is spearheading the entire nation’s efforts to undertake immediate rescue, recovery, relief and rehabilitation.”

“A declaration of a state of national calamity will hasten the rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts of the government and the private sector, including any international humanitarian assistance, and will effectively control the prices of basic goods and commodities for the affected areas,” the President said in issuing Proclamation 303.

The declaration will also “further afford the local government units ample latitude to utilize their calamity fund for the rescue, relief and rehabilitation of their constituents.”

Mr. Aquino said the declaration “necessitates that the mechanisms for international humanitarian assistance are implemented pursuant to Republic Act 10121” or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010.

In declaring a state of national calamity, the President directed all departments and government agencies concerned “to implement and execute medical assistance, relief and rehabilitation work in accordance with existing operational plans and directives and orders issued in connection with the occurrence of calamities.” – Rappler.com