Communities successively hit by Typhoons Quinta and Rolly will benefit from the PHP16.4-billion anti-insurgency fund of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), Malacañang said Thursday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque assured typhoon-affected communities that they will all be “beneficiaries” of NTF-ELCAC’s anti-insurgency funds.
“Itong mga nasalanta ng bagyo po (Those hit by the typhoon), they will be beneficiaries of the ELCAC funds,” he said in a press briefing from Virac, Catanduanes, among the most heavily devastated by the typhoon.
Roque explained that while anti-insurgency funds will be used to free villages from threats to security and development, it will also assist residents affected by natural calamities.
“Iyong ELCAC na pondo po ay pupunta doon sa area na mayroong insurgency problem ‘no. Dahil alam naman natin na kinakailangan magkaroon ng pag-unlad para mawala na iyong problema pagdating sa insurgency (The ELCAC funds will go to areas where there are insurgency problems. Because we know that there is a need for development to clear an area from insurgency),” he added.
However, Roque backtracked on his earlier statement expressing support for the realignment of NTF-ELCAC funds.
“Hindi na po kinakailangan mag-realign diyan, ituloy lang po natin na pondohan iyong mga ELCAC programs at malaking pondo po ay pupunta po dito sa Bicolandia at Catanduanes kung saan aktibo naman po talaga ang mga insurgents (There’s no need to realign the fund because the ELCAC continues to fund programs and a huge portion of that will go to Bicolandia and Catanduanes where insurgents are active),” he said.
In an interview over CNN Philippines on Wednesday, Roque expressed support to the proposal of Senator Risa Hontiveros to realign a portion of the anti-insurgency fund to relief and rehabilitation efforts for communities affected by the typhoons.
“I think that is the objective of ELCAC. The objective of the ELCAC is to promote development in areas with ongoing insurgencies because we know that poverty is the root cause of insurgency,” he said.
Roque said he did not see “any inconsistency” with the proposal to realign a portion of NTF-ELCAC funds to typhoon-hit areas.
LGUs may request fund augmentation
In the same virtual briefing, Budget and Management Secretary Wendel Avisado said local government units (LGUs) may request for disaster relief fund augmentation, but this needs to go through the Office of Civil Defense (OCD).
Avisado said LGUs affected by “Rolly” may tap the quick response fund of several government agencies.
These agencies include the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the National Electrification Administration (NEA).
He said these agencies have a combined budget of around PHP6.8 billion for disaster-related spending.
Avisado said the national budget, or the General Appropriations Act of 2020, states that once this budget has been depleted the agencies may request for replenishment, which, he said, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is currently doing.
He said budget for the National Disaster and Risk Reduction Management fund (NDRRM) currently stands at PHP3.6 billion.
He said the fund cannot be directly released to LGUs since a request for funding needs to be coursed through the OCD, which manages request related to after effects of disasters or natural calamity.
“Iyon pong sa mga departamento, mga ano po iyon, quick response lang po iyon. Pero iyong pangmatagalan at mga permanent structures na kailangan i-rehabilitate o i-reconstruct, dadaan po iyan sa — nasa batas din po iyan sa NDRRMC through the Office of Civil Defense ((The funds allocated for the departments are only for quick response. But for long-term rehabilitation and rehabilitation or reconstruction of permanent structures the law said this needs to pass through NDRRMC through the Office of Civil Defense),” he added.
Meanwhile, Roque reassured residents of Catanduanes that the government would not neglect their needs.
“Hindi po kayo pababayaan, hindi kayo kalilimutan ng ating Presidente. Narito po tayo ngayon sa ground zero para ipakita ang suporta ng Presidente sa lahat ng mga naging biktima ng Super Typhoon Rolly (We will not leave you behind, our President will not forget you. We are here today at ground zero to show the President’s support to all the victims of Super Typhoon Rolly),” he said.
Since the President does not engage in politicking, Roque said all residents will be provided with necessary assistance.
“Lahat po ng mga pangangailangan ninyo sisikapin natin na dalhin dito by air, by land, by sea. At huwag po kayong mag-atubili dahil ang Presidente po walang pulitika iyan, lahat po ng mga nangangailangan ay bibigyan ng tulong (We will try to bring all your needs here by air, by land, by sea. And do not doubt, the President is not into politicking, all those in need will be given help),” he added. (PNA)