By Romer Butuyan
MANILA – The House of Representatives will formally recommend to their Senate counterparts in the scheduled Bicameral conference meeting for the P4.506-trillion national budget for next year, the proposed increase of at least P5 billion in the calamity fund for 2021.
In a statement released by the House Press and Public Affairs Bureau yesterday, it said the additional appropriation will be for the reconstruction of areas devastated by recent strong typhoons.
The House leadership noted that they passed on third and final reading the 2021 General Appropriation Bill (GAB) before the typhoons Quinta, Rolly and Ulysses “wreaked havoc in many parts of the country.”
“Given the tremendous damage caused by these successive super typhoons, it is imperative that we augment the calamity fund in next year’s spending plan. We have to help our people rebuild their lives and their communities,” the statement said.
It was noted that under the budget submitted by President Rodrigo Duterte to Congress in August, the calamity fund amounts to P20 billion, up by P4 billion from this year’s P16 billion.
However, of the P20 billion, P5 billion will go for Marawi reconstruction, while P6.25 billion would be augmentation for the quick response funds of the following agencies:
– P2 billion will go to the Department of Education
– P1.25 billion to the Department of Social Welfare and Development
– P1 billion to the Department of Agriculture,
– P1 billion to the Department of Public Works and Highways
– P500 million to the Department of Health
– P500 million to the Department of National Defense-Office of Civil Defense.
It means that a total of P11.25 billion are specifically appropriated, leaving a balance of P8.75 billion that President Duterte could use to help victims of calamities and other disasters.
The Lower house thus stressed that next year’s calamity fund has to be increased to provide additional funds for the reconstruction of typhoon-damaged communities.
“Alternatively, we can allocate the additional money in the budgets of the agencies involved in reconstruction and helping typhoon victims,” it added. (AI/MTVN)