A leader of the House of Representatives on Thursday suggested tapping the quick response fund (QRF) from various government agencies to help raise President Rodrigo Duterte’s PHP10-billion pledge for immediate assistance to the victims of Typhoon Odette.
House Deputy Speaker Isidro Ungab said the money that can be tapped from these QRFs may be utilized for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the areas ravaged by “Odette”, including the pre-positioning of goods and equipment needed to give relief and assistance to the calamity victims.
He noted that under the 2021 General Appropriation Act, the following departments and agencies are provided with QRFs: Department of Agriculture amounting to PHP1 billion; Department of Education at PHP2 billion; Department of Health at PHP520 million; Bureau of Fire Protection at PHP50 million; Bureau of Jail Management and Penology at PHP50 million; Office of Civil Defense at PHP500 million; Department of Works and Highways at PHP1 billion; and Department of Social Welfare and Development at PHP1.25 billion.
“If there are funds still available from these QRFs, which can only be determined by the said agencies, they can immediately utilize these QRFs or request the DBM to augment these funds in order for them to quickly respond to the pressing needs of the disaster-stricken areas,” Ungab said.
Ungab said Duterte can also immediately utilize any available balance from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (NDRRMF), otherwise known as the Calamity Fund, under the 2021 GAA, for the areas hit by “Odette” in Visayas and Mindanao.
As reported by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the available amount of PHP2 billion has already been identified from the NDRRMF.
DBM Acting Secretary Tina Canda further said the amount of PHP2 billion is also readily available from the Contingent Fund of the President, under the 2021 GAA, which can also be utilized to provide the much-needed assistance.
Ungab cited that under the Constitution (Article VI, Section 25 item 5), the President of the Philippines is authorized to declare and use savings to augment deficiencies in other items of the general appropriations law.
He said if there are savings from the agencies’ budget under the 2021 GAA, the President could readily realign these savings for calamity response and rehabilitation activities.
He also noted that once the President signs the 2022 GAA, he can already order the release of any amount from the NDRRMF, with an appropriation of PHP20 billion at the start of the year, which can be allotted outright for those affected by Typhoon Odette.
Typhoon Odette caused widespread devastation and damage to houses, infrastructure, properties, and agriculture, and resulted in the disruption of critical lifelines of Filipinos in areas affected by the typhoon.
The death toll from the typhoon rose to 258, with 568 injured, and 47 missing, based on the latest data from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council showed.
Source: Philippines News Agency