Bohol lawmaker wants unused funds realigned to quake victims-A A +A
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
BOHOL Representative Rene Relampagos on Tuesday called on the House of Representatives and the Senate to pass a joint resolution to allow the realignment of unused funds from the 2013 General Appropriations Act (GAA) to help the victims of last week's killer quake in Bohol and Cebu.
In his privilege speech Monday night, Relampagos said available funds from the 2013 GAA would serve as the initial fund of the Bohol Rehabilitation Fund as part of the Bohol Recovery Program "to help the province get back on its feet."
A joint resolution, according to the website of the House of Representatives, has the force and effect of a law.
Bohol and Cebu were badly hit by a magnitude-7.2 quake last week.
"I am in favor. I discussed it with him and the other Bohol congressmen. We are also soliciting personal contributions from congressmen," House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said in a text message.
Senate President Franklin Drilon is also in favor of the proposal of Relampagos.
On Monday, Drilon filed Senate Resolution 302 seeking to realign the remaining priority development assistance funds (PDAF) for 2013 to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund.
Quezon City Representative Winston Castelo however opposed Drilon's resolution.
"That is unacceptable because that (PDAF) has been allocated for 2013. The subject of the funds have been earmarked and reserved for the expenditures of Congress," Castelo said.
The second tranche of the PDAF allocated to lawmakers for this year is subject of a temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court due to the controversy generated by the alleged multi-billion PDAF scam.
Relampagos meanwhile also sought to include the Bohol Rehabilitation Fund in the 2014 GAA, which is set to be approved on third and final reading at the House of Representatives Tuesday night. The 2014 GAA is still set to undergo the bicameral conference committee where conflicting provisions, if any, in the versions of the House and the Senate are settled.
"We propose the creation of a Bohol Rehabilitation Fund... as restoration and other estimates especially for the first district, as evaluation of the damages are yet to be determined," Relampagos said.
The Bohol lawmaker also pushes for a House bill that would modernize the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).
The modernization bill will update the current Philippine geohazard map to include suspected faults; the purchase of equipment and the formulation of guidelines and programs to highlight prevention and risk reduction.
Visayas Earthquake Assistance and Development Commission
Meanwhile, the House independent bloc led by Leyte Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said they will file a measure creating the Visayas Earthquake Assistance and Development Commission.
The bill appropriates P25 billion for the aid, relief, rehabilitation and livelihood services, as well as infrastructure and housing programs for the victims of the Visayas quake.
The funds shall come from the National Treasury and will be released in three batches until 2015.
The said commission will be composed of nine members representing different government agencies. The chairperson shall be designated by the President from among the members of the Cabinet.
"We hope that the House leadership as well as our colleagues to set aside our partisan politics and support this measure," Romualdez, a close ally of former President and Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, said. (Sunnex)