Quote for the Week..

"Why are the country’s political leaders quick to act on amending the Constitution to change nationalistic provisions for the benefit of foreigners or to extend their terms of office but are allergic to amending the Constitution to address the people’s aspirations for self-determination?" - Marvic Leonen,Dean of the UP College of Law, in a keynote address delivered at the 1st International Solidarity Conference on Mindanao; March 16-18, 2009 in Davao City, Philippines.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

War in Mindanao eats into P15B fund for typhoon victims

The proposed P15-billion rehabilitation fund for areas ravaged by Typhoon “Frank” would be reduced to P10 billion due to the country’s increased spending for the war with Muslim rebels in Mindanao and other programs.

Iloilo Rep. Arthur Defensor, House Majority floor leader, said hostilities between government forces and Muslim rebels in Mindanao were draining the government’s financial resources.

Raul Banias, presidential assistant for Western Visayas, said the Department of Budget and Management had recommended the reduction of the proposed rehabilitation fund.

“(Budget) Secretary Rolando Andaya said it might be difficult to get the whole P15 billion during the budget hearing last week,” Banias told the Inquirer in a phone interview Sunday.

P5 billion less

Officials of provinces and municipalities that suffered massive devastation from Typhoon “Frank” were planning to use the proposed P15-billion fund for reconstruction and rehabilitation.

Expected to benefit from the fund are the provinces of Iloilo, Antique, Aklan, Capiz, Guimaras and Negros Occidental and the cities of Iloilo and Bacolod.

These areas suffered hundreds of millions of pesos in damages as a result of Typhoon “Frank,” which brought the worst flooding in the region in recent years.

Defensor said that if enacted, the supplemental budget would provide P10 billion for the rehabilitation program, instead of the P15 billion as earlier requested by the bill’s sponsors, Defensor said.

“The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) had advised us that our available resources could not sustain a P15-billion rehabilitation fund so we have to reduce it,” Defensor told the Inquirer in a telephone interview on Monday.


Because of the budget reduction, Banias said his office has started assessing various rehabilitation projects that have to be prioritized.

“The proposed fund is supported by an itemized request for every project in every province,” he said.

Banias said the projects included the rehabilitation and repair of damaged infrastructures like bridges, river and flood control, irrigation systems, farm-to-market roads, school buildings and health facilities, among others.

The Office of Civil Defense also requested P150 million to enhance its capability to respond to disasters in the region. The amount requested by the OCD would also be included in the supplemental budget, he said.(By Nestor P. Burgos Jr., David Israel Sinay; INQ.net)

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