MANILA— Malacañang on Wednesday clarified funds are "enough" for recovery efforts on the trail of destruction that Typhoon Odette left despite President Rodrigo Duterte's recent remark that the COVID-19 pandemic "depleted" has public coffers.
Odette late last week spawned heavy rains, shredded houses, swamped villages, and left hundreds dead in the central and southern Philippines.
"We have enough money and the President already directed, number one, iyong sa P10 billion nga na kinakailangan (the required P10 billion)," said Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, when asked if government can fund rehabilitation efforts.
Duterte on Tuesday night said he was "somewhat nervous" of another surge in coronavirus cases.
"Let me be frank to the public, depleted na 'yong pera talaga ng Pilipinas. Even coping up with the growing expenses for the typhoon victims... Niwalis nga kung ano pa'ng natira, ubusin na lang," he said in a public address.
(Let me be frank to the public, the country's funds are already depleted. Even coping with the growing expenses for the typhoon victims... We just scraped what's left, we'll just use that up.)
Nograles said the President made this remark "in the context of informing the Filipino nation... that marami talaga tayong mga challenges in terms of mayroon tayong COVID, na malaki ang gastos for COVID."
(We have many challenges in terms of huge expenses for COVID.)
"But we in government, in his administration will look for all ways and means in order to address all of the challenges, all of the concerns, lahat ng mga pangangailangan ng ating mga kababayan (all the needs of our compatriots)," Nograles said.
"This is not an easy task. But we all have to help each other, hindi lamang government, kung hindi lahat ng ating mga kababayan (not just the government, but all our compatriots)," he added.
Duterte has vowed to raise P10 billion to help survivors cope with the typhoon.
Of this amount, P2 billion is "already available" under calamity funds, while P2 billion will come from the President’s contingency fund, said Department of Budget and Management officer-in-charge Tina Rose Marie Canda.
The remaining P6 billion "will be available in a couple of days once the GAA or the General Appropriations Act is signed for 2022," she said in the same press briefing.