Go hails Duterte’s move to beef up calamity funds of typhoon-battered LGUs

Published November 25, 2020, 8:43 AM

by Mario Casayuran

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go lauded on Wednesday President Duterte for once again heeding the call for the national government to assist local government units (LGUs) battered by the recent typhoons. 

“I welcome his decision to approve the recommendation of DBM (Department of Budget and Management), based on my previous appeal, for the release of financial assistance to LGUs severely hit by typhoon ‘Ulysses’ by augmenting their respective calamity funds,” Go said. Go is vice chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. 

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go (SIMEON CELI JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

The funding is chargeable against the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund under the fiscal year 2020 General Appropriations Act (GAA).

“Isa po ito sa ating in-apela sa executive kung paano matulungan ang mga municipalities, cities, and provinces na tinamaan po ng typhoon Rolly at Ulysses. Pumayag naman ang Pangulo at inaprubahan niya kagabi ,’’ Go said. (This is one of our appeals to the executive on how we could help the municipalities, cities, and provinces hit by typhoons ‘’Rolly’’ and ‘’Ulysses.’’ The President agreed and approved it last night.)

“Alam naman natin na halos lahat po ng local government units ubos na ang kanilang 5% na calamity fund. Not only because sa calamity na tumama but because of COVID-19 dahil nasa state of calamity tayo at halos lahat sa kanila ginamit na ang calamity fund,’’ he added. (We are aware that almost all of the local government units have already used their five percent calamity fund not only because of the calamities but because of COVID-19, and we are in a state of calamity.)

Go’s appeal came after calls for assistance from affected LGUs as their calamity funds have been depleted due to the COVID-19 pandemic and by the recent series of typhoons that hit the country. 

The Executive Branch has also responded positively to Go’s recommendation early this year for the grant of a one-time “Bayanihan” financial assistance to LGUs at the height of the enhanced community quarantine to assist them in addressing the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Umpisa pa lang ng lockdown, ginamit na nila ang kanilang pwedeng agad na galawing pondo para sa pagkain, gamot at pangtulong. Ngayon, depleted talaga at wala na silang magamit nang dumating ang mga bagyo,’’ Go said. (At the start of the lockdown, they have utilized all their allowable funds for food, medicines, and for assistance. Their funds were totally depleted and they had nothing to spend when the typhoons came.)

 A total amount of P2 billion is allocated to the LGUs that were affected by typhoon ‘’Ulysses.’’ Out of the P2 billion, P1.5 billion will be released immediately to the severely affected LGUs in order to boost their capacity in expeditiously implementing disaster response, relief, rehabilitation, and recovery efforts.

“Bukod rito, mayroon ring P500 million na itinabi ang DBM (Aside from this, there is also 500 million pesos that the DBM has set aside) for incremental financial assistance to the same LGUs and to other affected LGUs that may be identified by the NDRRMC and/or DSWD,” Go said. 

According to the DBM, the factors considered in the computation of the individual allocation of financial assistance to the LGUs that were affected by typhoon ‘’Ulysses’’ are as follows:

  1. The number of affected families in cities and municipalities based on the initial reports of the Department of Social Welfare and Development;
  2. The proportionate amount of damages incurred on infrastructures and agriculture sector, based on the report of the NDRRM Council: and
  3. The provinces, cities, and municipalities proportionately computed based on the 2020 IRA shares of affected LGUs.

“So, more or less po, one percent ng kanilang IRA. Ibig sabihin po, ang computation, tulad ng Catanduanes na talagang apektado ng bagyong ‘’Ulysses,’’ bagama’t maliit ang IRA ay malaki ang makukuhang assistance dahil siya talaga ang apektado. Isa pang example, Tabaco City at Legazpi. Bagama’t mas malaking LGU ang Legazpi, malaki rin ang makukuha ng Tabaco dahil sa extent of damage doon (So, more or less, it’s one percent of their IRA. While Catanduanes has a smaller IRA, it will get a bigger assistance because it was the most affected by Typhoon Ulysses. Another example, Tabaco City and Legazpi. While Legazpi is a bigger LGU, Tabaco will also get a big [share] because of the extent of the damage there),” he added.

The augmentation of calamity funds can be utilized for relief, recovery, reconstruction, and other work or services in connection with natural or human-induced calamities which may occur during the budget year or those that occurred in the past two years from the budget year.

“Malaki po ang magagawa ng karagdagang pondong ito upang mapunan ang mga pangangailangan ng ating mga komunidad, lalo na’t mayroon pang pandemya at may parating pang mga bagyo sa ating bansa,’’ Go explained. (The additional fund is a big help in responding to the needs of our communities, especially now that there is still a pandemic and more typhoons are expected to hit the country.)

Go urged provincial officials to use their funds judiciously and to ensure that the needs of their constituents arising from the recent disasters and ongoing pandemic are met.

“Sana po ay makatulong ito sa kanila at magamit ang pera ng tao sa wasto. Gamitin agad para maka-recover. Importante para sa akin pagkain, walang magugutom sa panahong ito dahil kadalasan nawalan ng trabaho ang ating mga kababayan,’’ he said. (I hope that this can be of help to them and that the people’s money will be utilized correctly. Use it immediately so they could recover. For me, food is important, and no one should go hungry at this time because most of our countrymen have lost their jobs.)

“Hindi po kayo pababayaan ni Pangulong Duterte at ng administrasyong ito. Gagawin po namin ang lahat sa abot ng aming makakaya para matulungan kayong makabangon at malampasan ang mga krisis na ating hinaharap,’’ he added. (President Duterte and this administration will not forsake you. We will do everything to help you recover and overcome the crisis that we are facing.)

Go also emphasized the need for a holistic and whole-of-government approach to address the immediate needs of Filipinos in crisis situations. 

“Kaya nga po tinawag na ‘bayanihan’. Hindi lang tayo dapat nagbibigay ng tulong. Dapat sinisigurado rin natin na ginagawa ito sa paraan na walang nasasayang na effort, pondo, o oras,’’ he said. (That is why it is called ‘bayanihan’. It is not enough that we provide assistance. We must ensure that we do it in such a way that efforts, funds, and time are not wasted.)

He said concerned agencies should work together in order to ensure the timely, efficient, and responsive delivery of government assistance towards the full recovery of affected communities with a goal of  “building back better.”

“Patuloy lang po tayong magbayanihan at magmalasakit sa kapwa. Kahit anumang krisis ang susubok sa katatagan ng ating bansa, nandito po ang gobyerno ninyo na walang tigil na magseserbisyo para mapangalagaan ang buhay at kapakanan ng bawat Pilipino,’’ he said. (Let us continue to help one another and be compassionate to our fellowmen. Whatever crisis that will come to challenge the stability of our country, the government is here for you and  will continue to serve in order to safeguard the lives and welfare of the Filipinos.)