December 19, 2021 | 12:00 noon
MANILA, Philippines – Agencies helping areas hit by Typhoon Odette can apply for additional Quick Response Funds (QRF) if necessary, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said.
During a briefing on Odette’s effects last Friday, Health Minister Francisco Duque III said he spoke with the director of his agency’s regional office in Cebu and learned that some health facilities have lost their roofs.
He said that reconstruction of the facilities should begin as soon as the risk subsides so that they can provide services to affected communities, although he noted that authorities are still assessing the damage to health facilities in the typhoon-hit regions.
“And I would like to know if we can already submit the necessary budget for repairs directly to DBM so that we can work on it immediately,” he added.
Secretary of State for Budget Kim Robert de Leon, who was present during the meeting, said agencies such as the Departments of Health, Agriculture, Education, Public Works and Social Welfare, and the Civil Defense Department have built-in emergency funds.
“You can tap into this immediately and use (it). As soon as they are used up, you can simply send us the application to replenish the QRF, which we will settle from the remaining balance of the NDRRM fund (National Disaster Risk Reduction And Management) for 2021, ”said De Leon.
Cabinet Secretary and Acting Speaker of the President Karlo Nograles said the National Council on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management is collecting information on the extent of the damage caused by the typhoon.
The council is expected to submit its damage assessment and recommendations to the presidential office.
“But in the meantime the DBM is right when it says that the various departments have QRF that they can use. In the meantime, our local government units have the right to do so if they need to declare a state of disaster on the ground, ”said Nograles.
A state-of-the-art statement allows local officials to tap into their respective disaster funds to help the typhoon-hit communities.
At the same meeting, President Duterte said he was not as concerned about damage to state infrastructure but feared typhoon deaths could rise.
“I am as eager as you to go there to see myself,” said Duterte.
The president said the government is trying to raise funds to aid Odette-struck areas.
“You know, our budget was used up immensely due to COVID. Our funds were really used up. We prioritize the expenses. These typhoons are the imponderables as they would say. They would come, they would not, but our funds have been used up because of the COVID. So we’re trying to save enough money that we can send it to the affected areas, ”said Duterte.