By Ellson Quismorio
House Senior Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Party-List Rep. Carlos Zarate hopes that the 2021 national budget will be built around the needs created by the eruption of Taal Volcano in Batangas earlier this month.
Zarate said in a press conference Tuesday that the different government agencies and lawmakers would soon heed the “budget call” of the Executive branch.
“January and February ay budget season na naman, budget call. And I hope ito (Taal Volcano eruption) ang panghuhugutan ng aral at batayan ng mga ahensya sa kanilang paghahanda ng budget para sa 2021 (January and February marks the start of budget season, the budget call. And I hope we learn from this, and that this will be the basis of the agencies’ requested budgets for 2021),” he said.
“Kailangan talaga magkaroon ng comprehensive na pagtingin dito, at yung pag-prioritize natin sa pondo (We really need to take a comprehensive look at this, particularly our prioritization of the fund).”
On Jan. 12, Taal Volcano ejected a column of ash, followed by a still ongoing series of earthquakes. Reports said the ash fall has led to over P3 billion in agricultural damages.
Authorities are still holding their breath for a major eruption, meaning the worst may still come.
This early, the Makabayan lawmaker has questioned some knee-jerk responses of the government as far as helping the Taal Volcano victims are concerned.
“Ngayon ang naging immediate response ng pamahalaan, halimbawa, sa ating mga magsasaka sa Batangas ay pautangin. Hindi po utang ang gusto nila. Direct na ayuda para sila ay makabangon ulit (The immediate response of the government, for example, to Batangas farmers is to give them loans. They don’t want loans. What they need is direct assistance to help them get back on their feet),” Zarate said.
“Bagamat kailangang tugunan natin ito sa kagyat, kailangang magkaroon ng kumprehensibong pagbusisi at pagplano para ‘yung ating limited resources ay hindi rin masasayang (Although we need to address this immediately, comprehensive study and planning must be carried out so that we won’t end up wasting our limited resources).”
Zarate said a long-term solution is to hold consultations with the people in order to craft a “comprehensive rehabilitation plan.”
“Climate change is a real problem, matagal nang sinasabi ng mga eksperto at ng mga ordinaryong mamamayan. Pero parang nagkikibit-balikat tayo at nagiging reactive na lang. Hindi tayo nagkakaroon ng matagalang paghahanda (…this has long been said by experts and ordinary citizens. But we just shrug it off and remain reactive. We don’t create a long-term plan),” he said.