Gov’t eyes releasing addt’l funds for typhoon response

Published November 1, 2020, 3:43 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government is studying the possibility of releasing additional funds for disaster response and relief operations for areas hit by typhoon “Rolly.”

Residents wade in a flooded bridge over a swollen river due to heavy rains in Ilagan town, Isabela province north of Manila on October 31, 2020, ahead of Typhoon Goni’s landfall in the Philippines. (Photo by Villamor Visaya / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the pronouncement after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana admitted that the government’s calamity funds are running low.

“Sa ngayong nagpupulong ang mga opisyales ng Office of the President para tingnan kung anong karagdagang pondo ang puwede ma-release (At present, the officials of the Office of the President are meeting to check what additional funds can be released),” Roque said during a televised press conference at the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRMMC) headquarters in Quezon City Sunday.

Roque noted that President Duterte has directed concerned government agencies, including the military, to effectively respond to the latest calamity and extend assistance to the affected communities. 

So far, the Palace official said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has set aside P884 million in food packs and standby funds for disaster aid.

He said the Bayanihan 2 funds may also be tapped to sustain the government’s livelihood aid for jobless workers who are also affected by the storm. 

He said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will continue to implement Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD), a community-based emergency employment for displaced workers.

“Nandyan din po ang pondo sa Bayanihan 2, puwede ipamigay ng DOLE para doon sa patuloy na nawawalan ng trabaho dahil dito sa bagyong ito (The Bayanihan 2 funds are also available. DOLE can give aid to those who lost their jobs due to the typhoon),” he said. 

“I’m sure matapos ng bagyong ito, maraming TUPAD na ipamimigay para sa paglinis ng kalsada at pagbangon ng mga nasalantang bagyong Rolly (I’m sure after the typhoon, the TUPAD program will be implemented to clean the roads and help facilitate the recovery of places affected by typhoon Rolly),” he said.

Duterte did not attend the NDRMMC briefing Sunday and instead monitored the situation from his home city of Davao.

He is expected to deliver an address the nation  Sunday or Monday, according to his spokesman.

Rolly unleashed its wrath in the Bicol region and other parts of the country Sunday, prompting authorities to evacuate families, temporarily shut down the Manila airport, suspend railway operations in the capital, as well as prohibit maritime operations in areas on the path of the storm.

More than 300,000 persons have been taken to temporary shelters to ensure safety until the storm has passed.

Lorenzana said they might ask for additional money from the Department of Budget and Management to boost the calamity funds. 

Lorezana, who serves as chair of the NDRMMC, admitted that funds are needed to assist local government units in dealing with the impact of the typhoon.

Quezon Gov. Danilo Suarez earlier asked for government assistance in disaster response and relief efforts due to limited resources. 

Suarez made the appeal while attending the NDRRMC via video conference. 

“‘Yung calamity fund, ‘yung quick reaction fund natin ay kaunti na lang natitira siguro kailangan natin dumulog uli sa DBM para madagdagan tayo nitong calamity fund lalong-lalo na sinalanta tayo magkasunod na bagyo.

Mayroon pang susunod (Only a little of the calamity fund, the quick reaction fund is left so maybe we will ask the DBM to increase the calamity fund especially since we have been battered by two consecutive storms. There’s another storm coming),” Lorenzana said.

“Hayaan ninyo, titingnan namin ito, kung mayroon pa kaming natitirang pera para maibaba sa mga lalawagin (Rest assured, we will look into this, we will check if there are remaining funds to give to the provinces),” the Defense chief said.