HOUSE DEPUTY SPEAKER ISIDRO UNGAB suggested the tapping of the Quick Response Fund (QRF), remaining and available from various departments and agencies, in order to help raise the Php10-billion aid to the victims of Typhoon Odette, as promised by President Rodrigo Duterte.
“The money that can be tapped from these QRFs may be utilized for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the areas ravaged by Odette, including the pre-positioning of goods and equipment needed to give relief and assistance to the calamity victims”, Ungab said.
Ungab pointed out that under the 2021 GAA, the following departments and agencies are provided with QRFs:
DA-OSEC P1 billion
DEP-ED P 2 billion
DOH-OSEC P 520 million
DILG-BFP P 50 million
DILG-BJMP P 50 million
DND-OCD P 500 million
DPWH-OSEC P 1 billion
DSWD-OSEC P 1.250 billion
“If there are funds still available from these QRFs, which can only be determined by the said agencies, they can immediately utilize these QRFs or request the DBM to augment these funds in order for them to quickly respond to the pressing needs of the disaster-stricken areas,” Ungab said.
Ungab also noted that the President can immediately utilize any available balance from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (NDRRMF), otherwise known as the Calamity Fund, under the 2021 General Appropriations Act (GAA), for the areas hit by the recent supertyphoon in Visayas and Mindanao.
As reported by the Acting Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management, the available amount of P2 billion has already been identified from the NDRRMF.
According to the statement made by DBM Acting Secretary Tina Canda, the amount of P2 billion is also readily available from the Contingent Fund of the President, under the 2021 GAA, which he can also utilize to provide the much needed assistance.
Deputy Speaker Ungab, a former chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations in the 16th and 18th Congress, said that under the Constitution (Article VI, Section 25 item 5), the President of the Philippines is authorized to declare and use savings to augment deficiencies in other items of the general appropriations law.
He said that if there are savings from the agencies’ budget under the 2021 GAA, the President could readily realign these savings for calamity response and rehabilitation activities.
Deputy Speaker Ungab also noted that once the President signs the 2022 GAA, he can already release any amount from the NDRRMF, with an appropriation of P20 billion at the start of the year, which can be allotted outright for those affected by Typhoon Odette. (mtvn)