The House of Representatives is seeking an increase of at least P5 billion (P103.69 million) for the country’s calamity fund in 2021 to aid in the recovery of areas devastated by recent typhoons.
“Given the tremendous damage caused by these successive strong typhoons, it is imperative that we augment the calamity fund in next year’s spending plan. We have to help our people rebuild their lives and their communities,” House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said in a statement on Sunday, November 22.
Velasco said government agencies estimated that at least P35 billion ($725.81 million) worth of losses have been inflicted on the country by Typhoon Quinta (Molave), Super Typhoon Rolly (Goni), and Typhoon Ulysses (Vamco)
In August, before the typhoons hit the country, Congress proposed a P20-billion ($414.75-million) calamity fund for 2020 – an amount now seen as inadequate to help Filipinos recover after the typhoons.
Of the P20 billion, P5 billion was supposed to go to Marawi reconstruction, while P6.25 billion ($129.6 million) would be augmentation for the quick response funds of 6 agencies. The remaining P8.75 billion ($181.45 million) could be used for recovery but is hardly enough, said Velasco.
Velasco said the House will make the proposal during the bicameral conference with the Senate. The two chambers are set to convene after the Senate approves its own version of the budget, which it aims to do by Thursday, November 26.
If the House proposal is challenged, Velasco said they will push for reallocation from the budget proposals of agencies involved in disaster response and preparedness.
The national government currently has a P4.5-trillion ($93.32-billion) budget proposal for 2021. – Rappler.com
*$1 = P48.22
Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.