QUEZON City Rep. Alfred Vargas welcomed on Tuesday the House of Representatives’ plan to increase calamity funds for 2021 by P5 billion in light of the disasters that affected the country this year.
Vargas thanked Speaker Lord Allan Jay Velasco for spearheading the move for a bigger calamity fund under the proposed P4.5 trillion national budget for 2021.
“Natural disasters are constant threats to our country, affecting millions of Filipinos and causing billions of pesos in damage each year. While these calamities are unexpected, our funds to address them should always be enough,” Vargas said.
The House earlier approved a budget of P20 billion for the calamity fund, of which P11.25 billion has already been specified for Marawi rehabilitation and quick response fund of various agencies.
“Given that the country will be experiencing La Niña until March and more than half of the appropriation has been allotted for Marawi and other specific items, the P5-billion increase will give the national government the leeway to respond to as yet unknown natural calamities,” Vargas said.
The House will formally propose raising the calamity fund during the bicameral conference committee on the 2021 general appropriations bill.
Vargas also urged the national government to come up with a comprehensive mitigation, response, and rehabilitation plan for all local government units (LGUs).
The plan should include provisions for housing, relocation and livelihood for residents living in permanent danger or high risk zones, and assistance to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), workers and other affected sectors.
“Without a comprehensive plan, government would just be providing stop-gap measures. The national government should work with LGUs to ensure that the rehabilitation is doable, sustainable, and will protect the localities from future disasters,” Vargas said.
“The executive’s plan should cover all bases, but provide enough room for innovation and adjustment. Ang mahalaga, makapaglatag ng maayos na sistema para sa disaster mitigation, response, and rehabilitation; at hindi naiipit ang pondo dahil sa proseso,” he added.