Senate eyes hike in gov’t calamity fund for 2021

Published November 4, 2020, 1:58 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

The Senate Finance Committee is considering increasing the government’s calamity funds for next year, Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara said on Wednesday.

Sen. Sonny Angara (Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“We are currently studying the possibility of supplementing the calamity funds for 2021,” Angara said in a text message.

“We are looking for fund sources for realignment at the moment,” he added.

Angara gave the assurance after some local government units (LGUs) that were heavily affected by super typhoon “Rolly” complained they are already short of calamity funds due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Malacañang had earlier said the LGUs can ask for additional funding from line agencies with quick response funds (QRFs) like the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Agriculture (DA), and other agencies.

Detained Senator Leila de Lima has questioned the budgetary priorities of the Duterte administration.

She said the government should have made sure that the calamity fund or disaster response fund, for both the national and local governments, are always adequately funded and not the President’s intelligence funds.

“More so, the LGUs, ang dapat tinitiyak na malaki at sapat (ang pondo). Ganun din ang budget para sa DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) at DOH (Department of Health). Not the President’s intelligence and confidential funds. Not the anti-insurgency fund,” De Lima said.

She said it is clear that the policy directions and budgetary priorities of the Duterte government “need a lot of fixing.”

“Enough of the shock-and-awe propaganda mentality. Our leaders must get down to the real and compelling business of good governance. Urgently,” she added.