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Use disaster funds to help others, LGUs urged

IN the spirit of Bayanihan, a House leader is urging unaffected local government units (LGUs) to use their local disaster funds to help affected areas such as Cagayan and Isabela.

To date, Cagayan and Isabela are affected by heavy flooding after Typhoon Ulysses dumped more rains in Luzon. Places in Bicol region like Catanduanes and Albay are also affected by Typhoon Tonyo which came ahead of Ulysses.

Chairman of the House committee on ways and means Rep. Joey Salceda has appealed to LGUs unaffected by recent typhoons and with underutilized local disaster risk reduction management funds (LDRRMF) to mobilize resources towards impacted communities.

Citing Section 21 of Republic Act No. 10121, or Philippine Disaster Reduction and Management Act, Salceda said LGUs are allowed to do so.

“The law grants us the mechanism to help each other. When I was Governor of Albay, we organized a disaster response team called Team Albay, for mobilization in other LGUs in need of Albay’s help. We realized that Albay had a wealth of DRR experience that other LGUs in critical need could use. We made use of Section 21 of RA 10121 to mobilize efforts in other communities,” Salceda said.

In 2007, Team Albay was formed as a community driven, disaster-preparedness, volunteer corps that can mobilize within 24 hours and be the first unit to arrive on the scene of a disaster and provide humanitarian relief to critical areas.

“It’s an insurance risk pool of goodwill. The LGUs Team Albay helped were also among the first LGUs to respond to Albay’s calls for help during our times of need,” Salceda further explained.

Allocation issue can be solved by inter-LGU cooperation

“The problem with LDRRM funds, which are 5 percent of LGU revenues, is that poor communities with less revenues are also the ones most hard-hit by disasters. Meanwhile, rich LGUs also tend not to have too many disasters to deal with. Thus, their LDRRM funds are often underutilized. That’s why I am pushing for a national counterpart financing mechanism that would provide additional funding for LGUs based on risk exposure to disasters,” Salceda said.

“While that national counterpart mechanism doesn’t exist yet, we local communities will have to rely on each other to solve this allocation problem,” Salceda explained.

Salceda added that there should be a robust and institutionalized national disaster framework, capable of marshaling the resources of the state when needed, and that the creation of the Department of Disaster Resilience will help meet this need.

“Many vulnerable LGUs are also already stretched thin. Local resource problems are worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, as many local governments have used much of their resources to also address the impacts of this global problem,”

The review of the utilization of the LDRRMF by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) shows that many LGUs have underutilized Local DRRM Funds in recent years, and the funds should now be used for the intended purpose. Under Section 21 of RA 10121, LDRRMCs “may transfer the said fund to support disaster risk reduction work of other LDRRMCs which are declared under state of calamity”.

“We call on local governments unaffected by the recent typhoons to help their fellow Filipinos during their hour of need by transferring their LDRRMFs and mobilizing other available resources to urgently aid communities affected by the recent storms,” Salceda appealed.

Publication Source :    People's Journal