As youth groups intensified relief efforts with schools to aid typhoon victims, the P21.7 billion calamity budget for 2012 was questioned in the absence of a proper disaster plan that should be created and installed by the national government to mitigate disasters.
In the 2012 General Appropriations Act (GAA) recently approved by President Benigno Aquino III, P7.5 billion was allocated for the calamity fund while P14.2 billion was set for disaster risk reduction and management activities under the unprogrammed funds.
Despite the huge amount, however, Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raymond “Mong” Palatino said that the funding is questionable given that there is no clear and proper disaster plan implemented by the government that will mitigate the impact of typhoons and other natural disasters.
“No amount can forestall a doomsday scenario for Filipinos if the government does not install a clear and proper disaster plan that should put importance on disaster preparedness and environmental measures,” Palatino said.
“Something even worse than the Sendong tragedy is bound to happen should the Aquino government insist on prioritizing quick response measures over disaster preparedness measures,” he added.
In the 2011 national budget, President Aquino vetoed disaster preparedness in the P5 billion calamity fund by issuing a warning that eventually put premium on quick response measures, a move which Palatino said weakened government capacity to alleviate the impact of natural disasters.
Palatino aslo said that the role of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDDRMC) was reduced by Aquino to implementing post-disaster measures when the law clearly states that the focus should be on disaster preparedness.
Republic Act no. 10121, passed in 2009, states that the Calamity Fund should be used for “disaster risk reduction or mitigation, prevention and preparedness activities such as but not limited to training of personnel, procurement of equipment, and capital expenditures” and that only “thirty percent (30%) shall be allocated as Quick Response Fund (QRF) or stand-by fund for relief and recovery programs in order that situation and living conditions of people in communities or areas stricken by disasters, calamities, epidemics, or complex emergencies, may be normalized as quickly as possible.”
“Ang mga buhay na nawala dahil sa trahedya ay hindi maibabalik ng simpleng pagbuhos ng pera mula sa gobyerno. Kailangan may mailnaw at maayos na disaster plan. Ilan pa ang kailangan mamatay dahil kapabayaan ng gobyerno?” Palatino said.
The youth solon added that the Sendong tragedy was aggrandized by the “legal logging” allowed by the President himself which resulted to forest denudation.
Youth groups, meanwhile, have vowed to widen the scope of the relief drive to enjoin students to give assistance to typhoon victims. Protest actions have also been set to call on the government to create and install a proper disaster plan in the next few weeks. ###
REPUBLIC ACT No. 10121 (Passed in 2009)
AN ACT STRENGTHENING THE PHILIPPINE DISASTER RISK REDUCTION AND MANAGEMENT SYSTEM, PROVIDING FOR THE NATIONAL DISASTER RISK REDUCTION AND MANAGEMENT FRAMEWORK AND INSTITUTIONALIZING THE NATIONAL DISASTER RISK REDUCTION AND MANAGEMENT PLAN, APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
Section 22. National Disaster Risk” Reduction and Management Fund. – (a) The present Calamity Fund appropriated under the annual General Appropriations Act shall henceforth be known as the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (NDRRM Fund) and it shall be used for disaster risk reduction or mitigation, prevention and preparedness activities such as but not limited to training of personnel, procurement of equipment, and capital expenditures. It can also be utilized for relief, recovery, reconstruction and other work or services in connection with natural or human induced calamities which may occur during the budget year or those that occurred in the past two (2) years from the budget year.
(b) The specific amount of the NDRRM Fund and the appropriate recipient agencies and/or LGUs shall be determined upon approval of the President of the Philippines in accordance with the favorable recommendation of the NDRRMC.
(c) Of the amount appropriated for the NDRRM Fund, thirty percent (30%) shall be allocated as Quick Response Fund (QRF) or stand-by fund for relief and recovery programs in order that situation and living conditions of people in communities or areas stricken by disasters, calamities, epidemics, or complex emergencies, may be normalized as quickly as possible.