Increased shelter aid eyed for ‘Rolly,’ ‘Quinta’ victims

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    THE National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council is studying the possibility of increasing shelter assistance to families whose houses were destroyed or damaged by typhoons and “Quinta” and “Rolly.”

    Another weather disturbance, “Tonyo,” made landfall yesterday in Torrijos, Marinduque and San Juan, Batangas but no significant effect was reported.

    Tonyo is forecast to exit the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) today.

    A low pressure area off Surigao del Sur was some 920 km east of Hinatuan town as of 4 p.m yesterday and it may develop into a tropical depression within 24 to 36 hours, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

    When it enters the PAR, it will be named “Ulysses.”

    PAGASA said the LPA had no direct effect on any part of the country yesterday. “However, as it moves closer to the landmass, it may bring rains over the eastern sections of Luzon and Visayas beginning tomorrow (Monday) afternoon,” it said.

    Ricardo Jalad, NDRRMC executive director and administrator of the Office of Civil Defense, yesterday said the proposal for increased shelter aid was recommended by a member of the council during a meeting last Friday.

    Under the proposal, Jalad said, those whose houses were damaged will get P10,000 assistance, from the current P5,000. Those whose houses were destroyed will get P30,000 assistance, from P10,000.

    Authorities adopted the same increase in shelter assistance during destructive typhoons, including “Yolanda” in November 2013, which left over 6,000 persons dead, and over a million houses damaged or destroyed.

    “We’re exploring if we can if we can do that. We are going to have a follow-up meeting next week,” Jalad said.

    Jalad surmised government agencies can afford to increase the shelter assistance. If there will be shortage of funds, Jalad said, “We are going to find funds for that; we can get it from many sources.”

    As of yesterday, the NDRRMC said Rolly, the world’s strongest typhoon so far this year, destroyed 17,436 houses and damaged 80,813 others in the Cordillera Administrative Region and Calabarzon, Mimaropa, and Bicol regions.

    Rolly hit mostly the Bicol region on November 1, leaving 24 people dead, based on the official NDRRMC count. It also damaged some P14.2 billion in infrastructure and agriculture.

    Quinta, which struck less than a week before Rolly, destroyed 9,147 houses and damaged 84,734 others in the Calabarzon and Mimaropa regions, the NDRRMC said.

    The agency said Quinta left 27 people dead and P3.5 billion in damage to infrastructure and agriculture.

    Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, head of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, said P10,000 cash aid will be distributed by government to families whose houses were damaged by Rolly.

    Del Rosario, in an interview with radio dzBB, said teams from the DHSUD, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and the National Housing Authority will inspect areas affected by Rolly today and Tuesday to coordinate with local authorities and determine the actual damage in the affected areas.

    The cash aid, which would be sourced from the DHSUD-NHA and DSWD, is expected to be distributed by Wednesday and is targeted to help the victims from the Bicol, Calabarzon, and Mimaropa regions.

    Del Rosaio said P5,000 cash aid would also be given to families whose houses were damaged by Rolly.

    INTERNATIONAL AID

    Jalad said assistance from the international community has started to arrive for victims of Rolly.

    He said aid from Australia has arrived and includes hygiene and shelter materials. The United Arab Emirates, the ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Center, and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, among others, have also offered assistance.

    Jalad said the government has not appealed for assistance from the international community “but if they will volunteer, then we will accept.”

    The US Embassy said the US through the US Agency for International Development will provide $200,000 or P9.7 million to support the Philippine government efforts to assist the victims of Rolly.

    Alex Masiglat, spokesman of the OCD-Calabarzon, said one-foot flooding was reported in Lucena City in Quezon, and about 600 passengers were stranded in Quezon and Batangas ports due to suspension of sea travel.

    In Mimaropa, there were also no reported significant effects from Tonyo, except for some 500 passengers stranded in the ports of Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque and Romblon.

    CALAMITY FUNDS

    Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara batted for a P5-billion increase for next year’s calamity funds so government can ably respond to calamities.

    Angara, chair of the Senate finance committee, said that from P16 billion calamity funds for this year, the government should have least P21 billion for next year as calamity funds are easily depleted, especially during volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and typhoons.

    This year, the government’s calamity funds were used in the fight against COVID-19.

    He said senators can slash portions of budget allocations in some agencies and transfer those to calamity funds.

    Local government units in regions badly hit by Rolly have asked help for relief goods and construction materials as their calamity funds are almost depleted due to their COVID-19 response.

    Minority senators floated the idea of slashing a portion of the P16-billion government anti-insurgency funds and converting these into calamity funds. The P16-billion anti-insurgency fund forms part of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict budget of P19 billion next year.

    Angara thumbed down the minority senators’ proposal, saying the funds can help communist rebels return to NPA-cleared areas since improvements in basic services will be introduced in these areas using the funds. — With Noel Talacay, Jocelyn Montemayor and Raymond Africa