PNoy CERTIFIED URGENCY OF SUPPLEMENTAL FUND FOR VICTIMS

President Aquino will certify as urgent the proposed P14.6-billion supplemental budget for victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda to ensure its swift passage, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said yesterday. The move of Congress leaders to pass a supplemental budget was prompted by the Supreme Court’s decision to declare the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and other congressional pork barrel unconstitutional. The P14.6 billion represents the remaining PDAF of the lawmakers in the 2013 national budget.

ALSO: House OKs P14.6-B supplemental budget on first reading

The House of Representatives acted swiftly yesterday on two measures aimed at boosting government funding for the rehabilitation of provinces devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda and other areas hit by calamities this year. Passed on first reading and referred to the House committee on appropriations were House Bill 3423, which seeks to appropriate P14.6 billion in supplemental budget, and Joint Resolution No. 7, which seeks to extend the life of calamity-related funds and savings in the 2013 national budget by one year.

MANILA, NOVEMBER 25, 2013 (PHILSTAR) By Aurea Calica - President Aquino will certify as urgent the proposed P14.6-billion supplemental budget for victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda to ensure its swift passage, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said yesterday.

The move of Congress leaders to pass a supplemental budget was prompted by the Supreme Court’s decision to declare the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and other congressional pork barrel unconstitutional.

The P14.6 billion represents the remaining PDAF of the lawmakers in the 2013 national budget.

“The President is willing, if needed, to certify the urgency of the supplemental budget,” Coloma said.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said Budget Secretary Florencio Abad had assured him of the President’s certification.

In a statement, Drilon also noted National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon’s issuance of a certification last Nov. 21 on the availability of funds from which a supplemental budget could be drawn.

“Everything is in order now for the immediate passage of this supplemental budget. Hopefully, it can be passed as early as possible, since the victims of these calamities urgently need the augmented support of the government for rehabilitation,” Drilon said.

“Who will ultimately benefit from our urgent actions would be those who were left homeless, hungry and in despair by the calamities. We need to help them right now,” he added.

The House of Representatives earlier vowed expeditious action on the proposed supplemental budget. Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said they would have the measure passed before the Christmas break.

The House leader gave the assurance even as Malacañang said it was still studying the implications of the SC decision.

Coloma earlier said that although lump sum funds were available for the executive branch’s use for relief, rehabilitation and rebuilding of areas ravaged by Yolanda, they would have to review first the SC decision on the PDAF or pork barrel fund.

Coloma said they would like to ensure they were not violating any law in utilizing funds covered by the SC ruling.

The same SC decision stated that the allocation of the President’s Social Fund was unconstitutional and that the Malampaya Fund should be used exclusively for energy-related projects.

Based on the SC ruling, unused pork allocations for this year should be plowed back to the national treasury. – With Marvin Sy

House OKs P14.6-B supplemental budget on first reading By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 26, 2013 - 12:00am 1 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - The House of Representatives acted swiftly yesterday on two measures aimed at boosting government funding for the rehabilitation of provinces devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda and other areas hit by calamities this year.

Passed on first reading and referred to the House committee on appropriations were House Bill 3423, which seeks to appropriate P14.6 billion in supplemental budget, and Joint Resolution No. 7, which seeks to extend the life of calamity-related funds and savings in the 2013 national budget by one year.

The measures read that funds appropriated “shall be used for the repair, rehabilitation, reconstruction works and activities in areas affected by disasters and calamities, including but not limited to the devastating Typhoons Labuyo, Odette, Pablo, Sendong, Santi and Vinta, the siege and unrest in Zamboanga, the magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Bohol and Cebu, and the recent onslaught of Yolanda, which severely hit Central Philippines, including southern Tagalog and the Visayas.”

“The onslaught of the said calamities affected individuals and communities and have drastically shaken the nation’s core and disrupted government functionaries, especially those directly involved in the relief and rescue operations,” the measures stated.

Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, chairman of the panel, said the one and only hearing on the two measures is scheduled for tomorrow. The House leadership aims to present them for plenary approval by next week.

“It depends on what will be discussed in the hearing. We can itemize – anything can happen in the hearing,” Ungab told The STAR when asked about warnings from some of his colleagues that the proposed appropriations must not be in the form of lump sums to avoid corruption.

The move of the chamber presumed that the House leadership was able to get at least one of the two documents it requested from Malacañang – a certification from President Aquino that the measures are urgent, and another from the National Treasurer certifying the availability of funds.

The two measures were filed by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II, Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora, Ungab, and Guimaras Rep. Joaquin Carlos Rahman Nava.

The proposed supplemental budget will be funded from the unused Priority Development Assistance Fund of senators and congressmen for 2013. Belmonte earlier vowed the House would pass the proposed supplemental budget before Congress goes on a break on Dec. 23 to hasten the delivery of aid to the victims.

“Time is of the essence because the year is ending. The efficacy of those funds is one year under the current 2013 budget so it is necessary to act fast so the funds can be obligated before the end of the year,” Belmonte said.

The joint resolution seeks to extend the validity appropriations under the Calamity Fund and the Quick Response Fund, including those sourced from savings realigned in the current year, as well as all unobligated allotments for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) and capital outlay (CO) under the 2013 General Appropriations Act (GAA). For this purpose, the resolution seeks to amend Section 63 of the 2013 GAA, which states that all appropriations are available for release and obligation until the end of the year.

The unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations for MOOE and CO for 2013 are urgently needed to finance the rehabilitation projects of the calamity-hit areas, the resolution stated.

At the upper chamber, Senate President Franklin Drilon also filed yesterday Senate Joint Resolution No. 5 seeking to extend the validity of calamity-related funds for one more fiscal year.

“Once the validity of the P20.8 billion (in unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations) is extended by the joint resolution, it could join the P14.6-billion supplemental budget and the P20-billion rehabilitation fund to serve as a collective P55.4 billion then available to the national government and all its agencies for the relief and rehabilitation programs throughout 2014,” Drilon said.

Among the agencies with quick response funds are the departments of social welfare and development, agriculture, education, public works and highways, health, transportation and communication and the Office of the Civil Defense.

Drilon said it is imperative for the government to implement aggressive and continuous relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in the affected areas to enable the people and communities to recover from the destruction caused by various calamities. – With Christina Mendez


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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