President Rodrigo Duterte urged Congress to pass a PHP30-billion supplemental budget to build more evacuation centers in Southern Tagalog provinces devastated by the eruption of Taal Volcano.
Duterte made the call after the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) sought for additional funding from the Congress and Office of the President to augment the nearly “depleted” calamity funds at the local level.
“Itong pangyayari na ito hindi naman ito kasali sa budgeting. Hindi naman natin akalaing puputok. So baka magkaroon tayo ng supplemental budget sa Congress (This incident is not part of the budget. Nobody expected it to erupt. So we might have a supplemental budget from Congress),” Duterte said during the ceremonial distribution of calamity assistance to families affected by the Taal eruption in Sto. Tomas City, Batangas.
“That is why it would be good if Congress can provide the money together with the — itong tulong ninyo. May estimate na sila (work on it together. I think they have an estimate). I think it was Congressman Villafuerte who made the… It’s about PHP30 billion,” he added, referring to House Deputy Speaker for Finance and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Ray “LRay” Villafuerte Jr.
Duterte also called on Congress to raise the amount to PHP50 billion to allow the construction of more evacuation centers.
“Dagdagan na lang nila gawain nila 50 para magtayo ng evacuation center (They can even add, make it 50 so we can put up evacuation centers),” Duterte said.
“In the meantime that we are expecting another eruption, mas mabuti na lang na umpisahan na rin ang evacuation center (It’s better that we start building evacuation centers),” he added.
He also proposed for the construction of big evacuation centers especially in disaster-prone areas like Samar, Isabela, and Cagayan.
Duterte expressed willingness to help residents whose houses were damaged by earthquakes following the eruption of Taal Volcano.
The government, he said, asks money from the National Treasury if there are insufficient calamity funds.
With the PHP3.17-billion agriculture damage caused by Taal eruption, Duterte said the Department of Agriculture (DA) will also provide aid to farmers.
In its latest damage report, the DA said the agricultural damage and losses covered a total of 15,790 hectares and 1,923 animal heads in the Calabarzon (Region 4-A).
The department cited that the fisheries sector is the most affected with an estimated amount of PHP1.6 billion in losses for the culture of tilapia and some bangus species.
Earlier, the DA regional office in Calabarzon announced the distribution of PHP21.7 million worth of combined interventions for crops and livestock to 17 local government units including Agoncillo, San Nicolas, Talisay, Lemery, Laurel, Lipa City, San Jose, Nasugbu, Mataas na Kahoy, Balete, Cuenca, Alitagtag, Padre Garcia, Tanauan City, Malvar and Taal.
The DA encouraged farmers to avail of the Agricultural Credit and Policy Council’s (ACPC) PHP25,000 zero-interest loan payable in three years to help them getting back on their feet.
An initial PHP30 million has been allocated by the ACPC that is estimated to benefit about 1,200 affected farmers and fisherfolk. (PNA)