SENATOR Grace Poe pressed for sufficient funding in the yearly national budget for disaster mitigation, recovery and rehabilitation amid the country’s longstanding vulnerability to natural calamities.
“We have been investing far too little to protect our people and communities at risk from disasters,” said the senator, who is the author of Senate Bill No. 124 or the proposed “Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management System Act.”
In the bill that seeks to create a disaster risk reduction department, at least three percent of all estimated regular government revenues shall be set aside for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (NDRRM) fund to be used for the purposes identified in Republic Act (RA) No. 10121 or Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act.
The NDRRM fund shall not be reduced, transferred, realigned, or used for purposes other than those identified under RA 10121, the measure added.
“There should always be a dedicated fund spent in a correct and transparent way to mitigate the impact of disasters and aid the people,” Poe said.
The current law states that the NDRRM fund shall be primarily used for mitigation, prevention and preparedness activities. In addition, it may also be used for post-disaster relief, recovery and rehabilitation services.
Despite the country being disaster-prone, Poe noted that the NDRRM fund or calamity fund has been slashed through the years. In 2017, it was reduced to P15.8 billion from the previous year’s appropriation of P38.9 billion. From P20 billion in 2019, it was cut to P16 billion in 2020. The 2021 proposed budget pitches for a return to the P20-billion level.
The country is confronted with the damages and displacement caused by the Taal volcano early this year. Several typhoons have ravaged provinces the past months, including Quinta and Rolly, which left a trail of huge destruction.
The Philippines is ranked 9th in the 2019 edition of the World Risk Index. Around 20 typhoons and other severe weather disturbances affect the country each year.
“Planning and acting early is practical, more impactful and more humane as they can save lives and livelihood,” Poe said.
Poe stressed that adequate funding for calamity would ensure that local governments would not have to dig deep to bail out crisis-hit communities.