Chiz wants additional Yolanda budget justified

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 04 2014 05:58 PM | Updated as of Dec 05 2014 01:58 AM

MANILA - Senate Finance Committee chair Francis Escudero asked the Aquino administration to explain why it is seeking a supplemental budget for the victims of typhoon Yolanda even if it has not yet spent all the money authorized for disasters under the 2014 budget.

Escudero told reporters, "We authorized P137 billion for disasters under 2014 budget. We have yet to see actual utilization of the same. Unless they justify they need it we're not prepared to give it. Tatanungin namin bakit hindi pa nagagamit, bakit di pa nauubos."

Escudero said lawmakers may instead simply include a provision in the 2014 supplemental budget to activate funds affected by the ruling of the Supreme Court on the Disbursement Acceleration Program.

House appropriations committee chair Isidro Ungab told reporters that the lawmakers will press the executive for details on the supplemental budget when it begins hearings on the measure.

The Department of Budget and Management is seeking some P9 billion in funds in the supplemental budget for the victims of typhoon Yolanda.

Budget secretary Butch Abad, in a statement, said ''there is no P137 billion rehab funds still available. We've spent P52 billion. Only around P12 billion left for 2014."

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, meanwhile, said, "Dapat i-account muna yung dating supplemental budget for Yolanda along with the under utilized funds bago humingi ng bagong pondo."

On Wednesday, the budget department announced that the various departments of the national government are prepared to respond to the possible entry of Typhoon Hagupit into the Philippines as they have appropriate budgetary support worth P4.69 billion.

In an earlier statement, Abad said, “The departments are equipped with Quick Response Funds (QRFs), standby funds that they can readily access when emergencies or disasters occur. They can use these funds to mobilize the necessary resources and manpower to extend relief and immediate assistance to victims.”

Here is a breakdown of the QRFs per department:

Department of Agriculture - P406M
Department of Education - P564M
Department of Health - P500M
Department of National Defense - P448M
Office of Civil Defense (DND) - P764M
Department of Social Welfare and Development - P1.01B
Department of Transportation and Communications - P1B

The national government can also draw from the 2014 National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (NDRRMF) to deal with the after-effects of Typhoon Hagupit if it hits the Philippines.

Additional funds shall likewise be made available once the proposed 2015 National Budget is approved in Congress and signed by the President.