SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go lauded President Rodrigo Duterte for once again heeding the call for the national government to assist local government units severely affected by the recent typhoons.
“I welcome his decision to approve the recommendation of DBM, 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.
The funding is chargeable against the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund under the Fiscal Year 2020 General Appropriations Act.
“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 also said during a radio interview on Tuesday, November 24.
“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.
Go’s appeal came after calls for assistance from affected LGUs as their calamity funds have been exhausted due to the COVID-19 pandemic and by the recent string of typhoons that hit the country the past months.
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 local government units 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.
A total amount of PhP2 billion is allocated to the LGUs that were affected by Typhoon Ulysses. Out of the said amount, PhP1.5 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 500 million pesos na itinabi ang DBM for incremental financial assistance to the same LGUs and to other affected LGUs that may be identified by NDRRMC and/or DSWD,” said Go.
According to 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 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 1% 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,” 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,” he said.
Meanwhile, Go urged officials of the provinces to spend their funds judiciously and 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.
“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.
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.
He reiterated that concerned agencies should work together in order to ensure the timely, efficient and responsive delivery of government assistance towards 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 ended.