House seeks augmented 2021 calamity fund in Ulysses' aftermath

House seeks augmented 2021 calamity fund in Ulysses' aftermath
Photos from the Philippine Coast Guard show some Filipinos in the municipalities of Amulung, Alcala, Lal-lo, and Gattaran in Cagayan remain trapped on their roofs. They have since been rescued.
Philippine Coast Guard / Release

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives is slated to pursue an increase in the country's 2021 calamity fund for the reconstruction of areas devastated by the recent string of typhoons, its leadership disclosed Sunday.

In a statement sent to reporters on Sunday afternoon, House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said that the lower chamber was set to propose an increase "of at least P5 billion" during the bicameral conference on the proposed P4.506-trillion national budget for next year.

This comes after the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council earlier Sunday disclosed that 'Ulysses' had yielded a combined P12.9 billion in damages to agriculture and infrastructure.

“Given the tremendous damage caused by these successive strong typhoons, it is imperative that we augment the calamity fund in next year’s spending plan. We have to help our people rebuild their lives and their communities,” he said in the statement.

“Alternatively, we can allocate the additional money in the budgets of the agencies involved in reconstruction and helping typhoon victims,” he added, referring to the agriculture, education, health, social welfare, public works and national defense departments, all of whom will receive augmented quick response funds. 

The calamity fund under the existing budget submitted to Congress in August amounts to P20 billion, up from this year’s P16 billion allocation and of which, P5 billion will go for Marawi City rehabilitation, while P6.3 billion is allocated to add to the quick response funds of the six government agencies, totalling P11.3 billion already appropriated.  

According to the Marinduque representative, the remaining P8.8 billion "is not even enough to rebuild Bicol, which was [hard-hit] by Typhoon Rolly."

Earlier, the House Speaker also disclosed he had filed a resolution calling for an investigation into the circumstances of the rapid inflow of water into the reservoir of Cagayan River, among the areas hardest-hit by Ulysses.

“As the death toll continues to rise, and the extent of damage is slowly being revealed, there is an urgent need to examine the actions that were taken during, before and after the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses,” he said then in a separate statement. 

President Rodrigo Duterte has since announced the formation of yet another task force to focus on rebuilding in the aftermath of the three consecutive typhoons in as many weeks. 

As of Friday, November 20, at least 73 people have died in the wake of Typhoon Ulysses. 

— Franco Luna with reports from Xave Gregorio and Christian Deiparine 


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