MANILA, Philippines - A party-list representative blamed President Benigno Aquino for the government's lack of preparedness during disasters, pointing out that the chief executive even vetoed the P5 billion budget for calamity preparedness in the 2011 budget.
Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino pointed out Aquino's veto message for the 2011 budget. There, Aquino said: “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…”
Palatino said, “While damages caused by typhoons are inevitable, we can definitely reduce them 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.”
Palatino cited section 22 of Republic Act No. 10121, which states that disaster risk reduction, prevention and preparedness should be the primary mandate of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
The law further states that quick response to calamities should be secondary and should only be given 30% 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 resulted to unequipped personnel and inefficient government response before, during and after calamities. The veto is a man-made disaster that should be reversed by the President himself,” Palatino said.
Although the President's veto message stated that pre-disaster activities are embedded in the services of various agencies like the DPWH, DSWD, and DND, Palatino said "government efforts leave much room for improvement."
Palatino also raised questions on the 2012 budget proposal's provision of P7.5 billion for calamity fund and P14.2 billion for "disaster risk reduction and management,” arguing that the huge amount is questionable given the lack of a proper disaster framework.
"The increased funding for a flawed disaster framework is a waste of money. More people will suffer from typhoons and other calamities if disaster preparedness will still play a minimal role,” he said.