BUDGET SECRETARY DENIED VETO ON CALAMITY FUND IN 2011 BUDGET
 

[PHOTO - President Aquino shows a copy of the newly signed Republic Act 10155, or the General Appropriations Act of 2012 during a signing ceremony at Malacañang yesterday. The President signed the budget into law but vetoed a controversial provision putting a cap on debt. In photo are Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and members of the House of Representatives. Willy Perez]

MANILA, DECEMBER 23, 2011 (ABS-CBN) "No amount of the total calamity fund was vetoed.

The Aquino administration's capacity for managing and responding to disasters is still robust. In fact, we now have a balance of P1.297 billion from the Calamity Fund ready for Sendong victims," Abad said.

The 2011 General Appropriations Act merely cautions against the use of the calamity fund for pre-disaster activities, such as the preparation of relocation sites or facilities and the training of personnel directly involved in disaster management.

The funds for disaster preparation has already been integrated in the budgets of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of National Defense (DND).

"In imposing the conditional implementation, the administration actually ensured the proper use of public funds for disaster management, while allotting sufficient funding for pre-disaster programs to all responsible agencies. We took these into account to maximize government's ability to assist and rehabilitate calamity-stricken areas, as well as to avoid redundancies in public spending," he said.

Under conditional implementation of the provision on the calamity fund, President Benigno S. Aquino III stated that using the calamity fund for pre-disaster projects and programs "must be weighed against the imperious need of maintaining sufficient provision under the Calamity Fund for actual calamities." The conditional implementation will “prevent [the calamity fund's] full utilization for pre-disaster activities."

FROM THE PHILSTAR

DBM says calamity fund not vetoed in 2011 budget
By Delon Porcalla, PHILIPPINE DAILY STAR

[PHOTO - HON. FLORENCIO ABAD, DEPT OF BUDGET MANAGEMENT (DBM) SECRETARY]

MANILA- As the extent of the devastation of tropical storm “Sendong” unravels, President Aquino has authorized the release of P1 billion to beef up the remaining P1.17-billion calamity fund for this year.

In a statement, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said the additional funding would ensure “swift and continuous assistance to Sendong-stricken areas” in Cagayan de Oro City, Dumaguete and Iligan.

“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,” DBM Secretary Florencio Abad said.

The additional funding will be sourced from “government savings and unreleased appropriations under the 2011 budget.”

The DBM said the remaining balance from this year’s Calamity Fund would 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 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 (DSWD) will receive P521.2 million for its Early Recovery Services for Sendong victims in Negros Oriental, Misamis Oriental, and Lanao del Norte.

The fund will be used for the Modified Shelter Assistance Project, Cash for Work, and Livelihood Assistance initiatives.

Around P208.6 million will also be released to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the 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 will also receive P150 million for the production and installation of 1,000 automatic water level sensors in 18 river basins across the country with priority to the Cagayan de Oro River, the Iponan River, and Iligan City water systems.

In addition, P52.8 million will be channeled to the Local Water Utilities Administration for the quick rehabilitation of water systems in Cagayan de Oro.

Of the total amount, P32.4 million will be used to repair source-and-production facilities, while P20.4 million will be used to restore service connections to concessionaires.

No veto

Abad also clarified that the P5-billion Calamity Fund in the 2011 national budget was never vetoed, and that it was enough to ensure an effective disaster response and management by the government.

“No amount of the total Calamity Fund was vetoed. The Aquino administration’s capacity for managing and responding to disasters is still robust. In fact, we now have a balance of P1.297 billion from the Calamity Fund ready for Sendong victims,” Abad said.

He said contrary to recent reports, the General Appropriations Act for 2011 merely cautioned against using the Calamity Fund for pre-disaster activities, such as for preparation of relocation sites or facilities or for training of personnel directly involved in disaster management, as indicated in the Conditional Implementation of Special Provision No. 1 in this year’s Calamity Fund.

Abad noted that funds for disaster preparation are integrated in the budgets of various agencies including the DPWH and the Department of National Defense.

“In imposing the conditional implementation, the administration actually ensured the proper use of public funds for disaster management, while allotting sufficient funding for pre-disaster programs to all responsible agencies. We took these into account to maximize government’s ability to assist and rehabilitate calamity-stricken areas, as well as to avoid redundancies in public spending,” Abad said.

Under the conditional implementation of the provision, Aquino stated that using the Calamity Fund for pre-disaster projects and programs “must be weighed against the imperious need of maintaining sufficient provision under the Calamity Fund for actual calamities.”

The conditional implementation is also intended to “prevent (the Calamity Fund’s) full utilization for pre-disaster activities.”

“In the past, funds for disaster preparation unfortunately cut into the budget requirements for actual calamities. Under the 2011 GAA, we decided to prevent this from happening so we can respond optimally to all disasters and provide direct and immediate relief to victims of calamities,” Abad emphasized. -With Aurea Calica, Christina Mendez


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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