Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said today there was a need to pump more funds into the country’s relief, relief and rehabilitation programs for disaster victims as the country experiences an average of 20 tropical cyclones (tropical depressions). , storms and typhoons) each year.
Pimentel made the statement while expressing his support for increasing the government’s proposed 2023 disaster response budget.
Under the proposed 2023 National Spending Program, 31 billion pesos will be allocated to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (NDRRMF), or Disaster Fund.
“With these 20 tropical cyclones per year, and the fact that the Philippines is in the Pacific Ring of Fire, it is imperative to allocate more resources to disaster and disaster response and recovery programs,” Pimentel said.
While the proposed disaster fund budget is already 55 percent higher than this year’s P20 billion allocation, Pimentel said “it could easily prove insufficient.”
“We need to re-channel non-essential PAPs (Projects, Activities and Programs) in both the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2022 and the proposed 2023 state budget of 5.268 trillion pesos to fund critical programs such as the Disaster Fund in order to ensure a quick and efficient to enable response to disasters and catastrophes,” added Pimentel.
He stressed, “We need to ensure that resources are immediately available and accessible to both national and local government.”
“Let’s cut Confidential and Intelligence Assets (CIFs) and redirect this much-needed allocation to bolster our disaster response capabilities,” Pimentel said.
Among the proposed spending for 2023 is a record 9.29 billion CIFs. Of that, 4.5 billion pesos will go to the President’s Office; P806 million to the Philippine National Police (PNP); and P500 million to the Office of the Vice President; P500 million to the Philippine Drug Administration (PDEA).
“These funds can instead be used to improve PAGASA’s weather forecasting capabilities, build homes damaged by typhoons and earthquakes, and repair damaged roads and bridges,” Pimentel said, citing the Philippine Atmosphere Services, Geophysics and Astronomy (Pages). , the main agency responsible for monitoring typhoons in the country.
“Could they use their intelligence funds to monitor typhoons and floods and give us some much-needed early warning?” asked Pimentel.
Citing government data, Pimentel, who is among the first to call for help for victims of Typhoon Paeng, said the expected damage to agriculture alone could reach 1.3 billion pesos.
The number, he said, doesn’t include damage to infrastructure, as many bridges, dikes and roads have collapsed or been badly damaged.
Pimentel also cited that the country has yet to recover and rebuild the damage caused by the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Norther Luzon, particularly Abra.
The government previously estimated the total cost of the infrastructure damage at 1.8 billion pesos.
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