MANILA, Philippines – Learning from major disasters in 2013 such as the Bohol earthquake and Super Typhoon Yolanda, the Department of Education (DepEd) will seek from Congress a P1-billion ($23 million)* allocation for its 2015 Quick Response Fund (QRF).
“We are asking for a more significant increase in 2015 which we understand would be included by DBM [Department of Budget and Management] in the NEP [National Expenditure Program] that will be submitted to Congress after SONA,” DepEd Undersecretary for Finance and Administration Francisco Varela told Rappler on Tuesday, July 22.
This is a huge leap from DepEd’s 2014 QRF amounting to P654.8 million ($15.1 million), but Varela said P1 billion may not even be enough in the face of a major disaster like Yolanda.
“The experience has been that there have been major incidents or events that have led to DepEd requiring additional funds [beyond the QRF] to respond to disasters….It seems to be a recurring phenomenon,” he said.
According to DBM, the QRF is a “built-in budgetary allocation” that serves as a pre-disaster or standby fund for agencies, enabling them to immediately assist areas affected by catastrophes and crises.
Aside from DepEd, 4 other government agencies have QRFs:
- Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)
- Department of National Defense (DND) – Office of the Secretary (OSEC)/ Office of the Civil Defense (OCD)
- Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)
- Department of Agriculture (DA)
This fund does not require the recommendation of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) or the approval of the Office of the President before it can be used or released.
The QRF can also be replenished upon the agency’s request to the DBM, with the approval of the Office of the President.
DepEd’s QRF, for example, had already been depleted after the department responded to the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck Central Visayas in October 2013.
By the time Yolanda happened, DepEd had to request for an additional P2 billion ($46 million) from DBM – P1 billion from the Yolanda fund, and another billion realigned from a DepEd program. (READ: New classrooms in Yolanda-hit areas ready by end-2014)
The fund – classified as capital outlay (CO) – has been used mainly for the repair and construction of classrooms damaged by man-made and natural disasters, Varela explained. If necessary, it can also be tapped to replace furniture also damaged by disasters.
In the case of DepEd, the Central Office handles the QRF, while the school divisions request the amount necessary to respond to the disaster accordingly.
“[School divisions] have to gather information from the schools, prepare the request and justify the request fo Central Office. If everything is in order and you already have specific details for procurement, including estimates and designs..typically our procurement is done at the division level after Central Office gives them approval and funding,” Varela said.
Approximately P125 million ($2.9 million) of the P654.8-million QRF was already used in the first half of 2014.
As of Tuesday, the department was still in the process of assessing the damage incurred by Typhoon Glenda on 115 school divisions and 25,856 schools in 12 regions.
The typhoon claimed the lives of at least 97 people, with damage on agriculture and infrastructure amounting to P6.4 billion ($147.9 million) and P1.1 billion ($25.4 million), respectively. (READ: #GlendaPH leaves almost 100 dead, P7.4B in damage)
DepEd hopes to come up with its own estimates on school damage by Friday, July 25. – Rappler.com
(US$1 = P43.2815)
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