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MANILA, Philippines -- President Benigno Aquino III vetoed a provision in the 2011 budget that allocates money for disaster preparation under the P5-billion Calamity Fund.
Kabataan party-list Representative Raymond Palatino said this has weakened the capability of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to beef up preparations against typhoons and other calamities such as the recent typhoon Pedring and Quiel that have affected about three million people mostly living in Luzon and Metro Manila.
“The President made a tactical blunder when he disallowed use of funds for pre-disaster activities, building of relocation sites, and training of personnel. The veto is man-made disaster that should be reversed by the President himself,” Palatino said.
In his veto message on the 2011 national budget, Aquino said that the P5-billion Calamity Fund should be mainly used by the NDRRMC for “actual calamities” and not for “preparation of relocation sites/facilities, and training personnel engaged in direct disaster.”
“I caution the inclusion of pre-disaster activities such as preparation of relocation sites/facilities, and training of personnel engaged in direct disaster in the use of the Calamity Fund. While said purpose is laudable, the same must be weighed against the imperious need of maintaining sufficient provision under the Calamity Fund for actual calamities and prevent its full utilization for pre-disaster activities. Moreover, I note that the provision for pre-disaster activities are embedded and subsumed in the programs and projects of various implementing agencies under this Act,” Aquino had said.
Palatino said that based on Section 22 of Republic Act 10121 that created the NDRRMC, disaster risk reduction, prevention, and preparedness should be the primary mandate of the agency. The law further states that quick response to calamities should be secondary and should only be given 30 percent of the total NDRRMC budget.
“RA 10121 affirms the importance of pre-disaster preparations over quick response measures. The decision of President Aquino to veto disaster preparation for this year’s Calamity Fund results to unequipped personnel and inefficient government response before, during, and after calamities,” he said.
The partylist lawmaker said that while inevitable, damages caused by typhoons could be reduced through disaster preparedness.
“As more typhoons are expected to hit the Philippines in the following days, the President should strengthen pre-disaster activities to substantially reduce the devastating effects of typhoons and other calamities,” he added.
Although the President’s veto message states that pre-disaster activities are embedded in the services of various agencies like the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways), DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development), and DND (Department of National
Defense), Palatino said that “government efforts leave much room for improvement.”
Palatino cited the ‘photoshopped’ images of DPWH officials inspecting the damage of recent typhoons as an “agitating reminder of government inefficiency.”
“The tampered photos of DPWH officials serve as an agitating reminder of government inefficiency. It is a condemnable act that reveals the problematic disaster framework implemented by the government. The President should take appropriate actions to address this problem,” Palatino said.
For 2012, Malacanang has allocated P7.5 billion for calamity fund and P14.2 billion for “disaster risk education and management.”
Palatino said that proper disaster preparedness and management framework should be in place to ensure that the budget would not be wasted.
Meanwhile, Kabataan partylist together with national youth groups launched “Tulong Kabataan” to consolidate youth efforts for disaster preparedness and immediate relief of affected communities