Govât eyes supplemental budget for Marawi

In an interview, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the Legislative-Executive Development Authority Council (LEDAC) discussed the possibility of seeking additional funds to cover the expenses needed for the ongoing conflict in Marawi City. PPD/King Rodriguez, File

Gov’t eyes supplemental budget for Marawi
Mary Grace Padin (The Philippine Star) - September 3, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines -  The government is currently exploring the possibility of asking Congress for a supplemental budget to help settle the terrorist conflict in Marawi City, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

In an interview, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the Legislative-Executive Development Authority Council (LEDAC) discussed the possibility of seeking additional funds to cover the expenses needed for the ongoing conflict in Marawi City.

The LEDAC includes the President, vice president, Cabinet officials, leaders and representatives of the legislative branch, and representatives from the local government units, youth sector and private sector.

“In the LEDAC meeting last Tuesday, we discussed the possibility of bringing to Congress a special bill for additional money. The Congress said they would look at it but we did not have the exact figures,” Dominguez said.

The finance chief said he and Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno had asked Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to come up with the estimates as soon as possible.

Dominguez said the additional budget may be allotted for the hiring of new soldiers in the Armed Forces of the Philippines instead of equipment as the AFP still has enough funds to replenish supplies to keep up the fight against the Maute group.

“That hasn’t really been a problem. The big problem will be building the number of soldiers that we need to expand the military. The number we heard is something like 20,000 new soldiers,” he said.

Despite the rising expenses of the military due to the Marawi crisis, Dominguez reiterated the government’s fiscal program remains steady.

“We will be able to handle it. It’s not that we won’t be able handle it, we need the budget allocation for that because obviously, that is an extraordinary expense, so we have to go to Congress and ask for supplemental budget,” he said.

Lorenzana said the AFP has already spent approximately P3 billion in its efforts to drive away the Maute terrorists from Marawi City. He said this amount would still increase as the war continues ahead.

Meanwhile, the Department of Budget and Management has earmarked P15 billion in the next two years--P5 billion in 2017 and P10 billion in 2018--for the rehabilitation program. An additional budget will also be provided in 2019.

The DBM said the initial fund of P5 billion for this year will be sourced from the 2016 and 2017 National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund and the 2017 Contingent Fund, while the P10 billion rehabilitation fund earmarked for 2018 will come from the NDRRM Fund which is proposed at P25.5 billion.

Dominguez said China and Japan had also pledged to extend their support for the Marawi reconstruction.

As for Japan, Finance Assistant Secretary Maria Edita Tan said the DOF is awaiting the equipment to come in, which will be acquired by the Japanese government from local suppliers.

Dominguez said the plan for Marawi could involve the total reconstruction of the houses and buildings in the area.

“The plan really is to bulldoze the area that was affected because the buildings there most likely are already compromised. We don’t want people building over that and not knowing if the reinforcing bars are still strong. We might as well just rebuild everything. But then the community will be consulted about it,” he said.

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