P145-B calamity rehab fund set for 2014

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

MANILA (Updated) -- The government will spend P145 billion for the rehabilitation of areas affected by calamities in 2013, Senate President Franklin Drilon said Sunday.

The fund will be sourced from the P2.265-trillion national budget for next year, which was enacted by President Benigno Aquino III last Friday.

Included in the 2014 budget are authorizations worth P100 billion intended for the completion of various relief and rehabilitation programs on regions struck by natural and man-made disasters in recent months, especially those affected by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in the Visayas.

Drilon said the P100 billion is composed of P20-billion rehabilitation fund and another P80 billion under the unprogrammed fund, which would serve as standby allocation.

Congress has set aside P13 billion in calamity fund and P4.8 billion in quick response fund.

Lawmakers also passed the P14.6-billion supplemental budget coming from the unspent Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) for 2013 and extended the validity of the remaining P12-billion calamity fund by another fiscal year.

“In crafting the budget, the Congress took into consideration the need for urgent aid to our countrymen burdened by the damages of disasters. The sizeable amount of funding is absolutely necessary to equip the government in fulfilling its responsibilities to those left helpless by the calamities,” Drilon said.

The Senate leader also assured that Congress will ensure that every single peso in the budget goes toward the benefit of the public.

Aside from Yolanda, other calamities that hit the Philippines this year were Typhoons Santi and Labuyo, the Moro National Liberation Front’s attack in Zamboanga City, and the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that jolted Bohol and Cebu.

For Yolanda alone, the government said recovery and reconstruction efforts will cost P361 billion and may be finished by 2017 or a year after Aquino steps down from office.

Launched last week, the Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda Plan would cover five key areas of rehabilitation: housing, infrastructure and agriculture and fisheries, livelihood and business, and the delivery of health, education, and other essential services.

Yolanda has killed 6,109 people while damage to property was estimated at P36.6 billion, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council’s update as of Sunday morning. (Sunnex)

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