PUTTING THE WHOLE COUNTRY UNDER A STATE OF CALAMITY MAY NOT BE THE BEST OPTION — CONG. JANETTE GARIN

PUTTING THE WHOLE COUNTRY UNDER A STATE OF CALAMITY MAY NOT BE THE BEST OPTION — CONG. JANETTE GARIN

MANILA — It would be best if the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) would study and evaluate fully if declaring a national state of calamity is what the country needs in the aftermath of Typhoon Paeng, which ravaged parts of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

So said on Monday House Deputy Majority Leader and Iloilo First District Rep. Janette Garin, whose district is also affected by the typhoon.

Garin explained that there are advantages as well as disadvantages in placing the whole country under a national state of calamity.

She said that one of the great benefits of such a declaration is an automatic price freeze on basic necessities under Republic Act 7581, or the Price Act, the granting of no-interest loans by the government financial institutions and reprogramming of funds for the repair of infrastructure.

Aside from these, the government can mobilize its quick response funds, the NDRRM funds, and the President’s Contingent Fund, as well as the Presidential Social Fund that comes from PAGCOR.

She said that these available funds will be of great help and the declaration of the national state of calamity will hasten the rescue, relief, and rehabilitation efforts, but Garin admitted that she has a slight reservation on the matter.

“Sa mga affected areas lang dapat muna siguro ang maging rekomendasyon ng NDRMMC and with safeguards in place na hindi maabuso,” Garin added.

She explained that the declaration of a state of calamity follows very specific criteria, and not all provinces will qualify.

With two more months in 2022, it’s not only Typhoon Paeng that will enter the country as the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has said that two to three cyclones are expected to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) this month and another two in December.

Pagasa earlier said authorities must prepare for storms in the last quarter of the year since these usually hit land and pass through central or southern Luzon, the Visayas, and northern Mindanao just like typhoon Paeng.

The country has available funds for national disasters, but Garin said that these should be used accordingly.

“May sense of urgency din talaga, dapat marestore agad ang power, potable water, and access roads but we need to be vigilant about deciphering needs versus wants,” Garin expounded.

“Dapat maging maingat sa paggamit ng pondo lalo at hindi lamang ang bagyong Paeng ang maaaring maranasan ng bansa, nagbabadya pa ang Mt Mayon na ang alert level ay itinaas sa Alert Level 2 at Taal Volcano na nasa Alert Level 1 bukod pa dito ang banta ng lindol na kamakailan ay tumama muli sa Abra,” added Garin.

The NDRRMC recommended that the entire country be placed under a state of calamity during a situation briefing on Saturday presided over by President Bongbong Marcos. (ai/mtvn)

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