MANILA — The Bicameral Conference Committee has approved some P23 billion worth of funds for rehabilitation efforts in areas devastated by Typhoons Ulysses and Rolly as it finalized the 2021 national budget, which is expected to be ratified by Congress on Wednesday.
Members of the panel met again earlier in the day to approve the committee report which will be submitted to both chambers by afternoon. Congress aims to submit a final copy of the bill for the President’s signature before the year ends.
House Appropriations Committee chair ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Eric Go Yap said the money earmarked for calamity rehabilitation was realigned from the budget of projects deemed unimplementable under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Yap explained that unimplementable projects include those under validation or not validated at all from the agency. He said the projects with slashed funding for the rehabilitation aid were moved instead to “least priorities.”
“Almost P23 billion 'yung nilpat namin within the agency rin 'yun. Tinitingnan namin unang-una 'yung mga ‘di implementable, 'yung mga mas least na kailangan at nilipat namin sa mga provinces like Cagayan, tulad ng iba pang sa Bicol, Albay doon namin nilagay 'yung infra, mga roads -- ‘yong mga kailangan nila dahil kung makikita naman natin na-wipe out halos lahat ng mga kalsada,” the lawmaker said.
(We looked at the unimplementable projects, and the least prioritized, needed, we realigned the funds to provinces like Cagayan, Bicol, Albay. We allocated funding to roads, infrastructure because their roads were wiped out during the typhoons’ onslaught.)
He also said that the House of Representatives prioritized calamity-hit areas for the budget.
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“Actually sa House 'yung naging priority namin unang-una sa mga tinamaan ng calamities especially Typhoon Rolly and Typhoon Ulysses then very supportive namin sa amin 'yung Senate na tinulungan nila kami,” he said.
(The House prioritized those hit by calamities. The Senate was very supportive, they helped us.)
The Philippines was battered by back to back typhoons in recent months, starting with Typhoon Quinta (Molave) toward the end of October, and then powerful storms Rolly and Ulysses in November, while the country continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rolly, which lashed the Bicol region as a supertyphoon during its peak, killed 19 in the region and left some P5.8 billion in infrastructure damage, according to disaster officials.
As of Nov 17., the death toll from Ulysses has reached 73, according to reports received by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
The typhoon also left P2.7 billion in damage to agriculture, and P5.2 billion in infrastructure damage.