Palace to release P1B more for calamity fund; AFP saves P4M
Malacañang is releasing within the month an additional P1 billion to beef up this year’s calamity fund and “ensure the swift and continuous assistance to areas affected by Tropical Storm ‘Sendong,’” according to Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad.
Abad said the additional fund would be covered by government savings and unreleased appropriations under the 2011 budget. He made the announcement a day after President Benigno Aquino III said there was still P1.17 billion left in the calamity fund for 2011.
“By plugging more resources into the calamity fund, we can guarantee full support of ongoing relief and rehabilitation activities in Sendong-affected areas, including Cagayan de Oro and Iligan (cities),” Abad said in a statement.
Also on Wednesday, other government agencies stepped up efforts to alleviate the plight of Sendong’s victims.
NFA opened 24/7
The National Food Authority (NFA) central office and its field operation centers in areas affected by Sendong will be open 24 hours to facilitate the release of rice for Sendong victims, according to NFA Administrator Lito Banayo.
Banayo said the new office hours would help ensure the smooth coordination in the release of rice to government agencies, particularly the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), which is in the forefront of relief operations in Misamis Oriental, Lanao del Norte, Bukidnon, Zamboanga provinces in Northern Mindanao and in Negros Oriental province in Western Visayas.
The NFA said some 4,000 sacks of rice had so far been released to the DSWD for this purpose.
The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office also reminded patients who suffered injuries or ailments caused by Sendong that they may avail themselves of subsidized treatments in government hospitals in their respective areas.
In deference to the relief effort, the Armed Forces of the Philippines toned down this year’s AFP Day Parade at Camp Aguinaldo as it channeled its resources to the disaster areas.
AFP Chief of Staff General Jessie Dellosa scrapped the exhibition of 31 military aircraft. “We will channel whatever savings we will have to the calamity victims,” he said in a speech marking the AFP’s 76th anniversary.
On Dellosa’s orders, 19 military disaster response assets were pulled out from the parade and sent to help the Army’s 4th Infantry Division based in Cagayan De Oro City. He also canceled the traditional AFP ball, which would have had President Aquino as guest at the formal dinner.
Still, Wednesday’s parade saw the participation of around 1,000 troops, and the exhibition of 20 armored carriers and artillery assets and nine engineering vehicles. It also ended with a skydiving demonstration by 16 members of the AFP skydiving team.
The military saved about P4 million from the canceled portions of the celebration.
Abad said the remaining balance from this year’s calamity fund would be used to implement disaster-management and rehabilitation projects in the Visayas and Northern Mindanao, including Cagayan de Oro, Iligan City and the provinces of Negros Oriental, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Oriental and Surigao del Sur.
The DSWD will get P521.2 million to spearhead early recovery services for victims in Negros Oriental, Misamis Oriental and Lanao del Norte. The amount will go to the construction of shelters, livelihood projects, and cash-for-work initiatives.
The Department of Public Works and Highways will get P208.6 million for the immediate repair of damaged bridges and roads in Negros Oriental and Lanao del Norte. With reports from Jaymee Gamil, Chona Yu, Radyo Inquirer 990AM