DBM urged to pour funds into Southern Tagalog, Bicol


    SEN. Francis Pangilinan called on the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to immediately replenish the depleted Quick Reaction Funds (QRF) of Southern Tagalog and Bicol regions so they could respond to the needs of communities affected by super typhoon Rolly.

    Pangilinan noted the announcement of the Department of Social Welfare and Development that its standby funds for the two regions, which were battered by the weather disturbance, are “now zero” based on Situational Report No. 3 of the National Risk Reduction and Management Council as of 11:00 a.m. of Tuesday.

    “We hope the DBM can act with dispatch in augmenting the QRF of these provinces to help them in the recovery phase,” Pangilinan said.

    He said the DBM defines QRF as a “standby-fund to be used in order that the situation and living conditions of people in communities or areas stricken by calamities, epidemics, crises, and catastrophes may be normalized as quickly as possible.”

    When the QRF gets depleted, the agency may request for augmentation subject to the approval of the DBM. Pangilinan said that for 2020, a total of P6.8 billion has been appropriated as QRF lodged under various agencies.

    The QRF is distinct from the calamity fund or the National Disaster Risk and Management Fund, which has P16 billion for this year.

    Meanwhile, Sen. Risa Hontiveros yesterday pushed for the realignment of a portion of the Duterte administration’s P16-billion anti-insurgency funds next year to the relief and rehabilitation efforts of communities badly hit by the super typhoon.

    Instead of using the entire P16 billion for the Barangay Development program of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), Hontiveros said: “We should not spend such an inordinate amount of time and money on an agency running after ordinary citizens using the communist bogeyman. This is on top of the NTF-ELCAC’s bad track record of spreading fake news and silencing critical and dissenting voices,” Hontiveros said.

    The senator has been keeping a close eye on the outcome of the program, the proposed budget of which is “questionably astronomic”compared to the proposed budgets of key agencies like the Department of Housing Settlements and Urban Development (P632 million), Office of the Ombudsman (P3.36 billion), Department of Budget & Management (P1.9 billion), and even the Department of Finance (P17.46 billion).