Duterte to ‘Odette’ victims: ‘I’ve found the budget for you’

President Rodrigo Duterte said some government projects would be among the sources of the PHP10 billion he pledged to raise for Typhoon Odette victims.

“I’ve found the budget for you. Last night, we were working hard because we were cutting the budget of some government projects just so that I could give you something immediately. This is for the people, not for infrastructures. Maybe you’ll get PHP50,000 each. Ah, and you believed that so easily? Sige lang, maybe PHP40,000, is that okay?” Duterte said in a speech when he visited Siargao Island on Wednesday.

On Monday, he pledged to provide a PHP10 billion disaster response fund in a speech in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental.

Acting Budget Secretary Tina Rose Canda earlier said at least PHP6 billion of the PHP10 billion response fund would come from the proposed PHP5.024 trillion national budget for 2022.

Duterte assured that help is on its way, but appealed for “a little time” to lay out where the government would be sourcing the money he pledged as funds have been depleted by the pandemic.

“I told the governor already, I’ve told them a long time ago that I’m just ‘sweeping the floor’ to see where I would find the money. I won’t tell you anymore but I have – the money is available now. You will receive it on or before Thursday. Just give me a little time, just give me a little time,” he added.

He also enjoined local officials to ensure that the funds for relief, recovery, and rehabilitation efforts would be used wisely.

“Just wait for the money to arrive. Take care of it and spend it wisely. I’ve already told the governor,” he said.

Duterte also disclosed that seeing the extent of damage caused by the typhoon brought him close to tears.

“It’s really tough luck because the damage is massive. That’s why looking at the situation makes me want to cry,” he said.

Just as he did during his visit to other typhoon-hit places, Duterte apologized for the delay in his visit. He said he wanted to prioritize the hardest-hit provinces.

“Please forgive me because I passed by you on my way to Argao because I asked the military which areas were the hardest hit, where the most people were hungry. So, I visited Siargao first to ask how they are and assess their situation,” he added.

Duterte also visited the typhoon-hit Dinagat Islands on Wednesday.

He previously visited Maasin, Leyte; Inabanga, Bohol; Argao, Cebu; and Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental to distribute relief assistance to those displaced by the typhoon.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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