SEN. Panfilo Lacson yesterday pressed for the restoration of the Quick Response Fund (QRF) for the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Bureau of Fire Protection which was scrapped in 2016.
Lacson, during plenary deliberations on the proposed P244-billion budget of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and its attached agencies, said QRFs are needed by the PNP and BFP since they, too, are frontliners who respond to calamities, disasters, and even amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lacson said P75 million was allotted to the PNP and another P75 million to the BFP in the 2016 national budget but Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, chairman of the Senate finance committee, said the funds were not released.
“It was appropriated (during the deliberations for the 2016 national budget) in 2015 but never released. According to the PNP, the requirements were quite stringent. They were not able to meet the requirements,” Angara said.
Lacson asked how much will the PNP and BFP need as QRF next year if they will introduce institutional amendments to the proposed P4.506-trillion national budget for 2021.
Angara said the PNP will need around P125 million, while the BFP will require P75 million to cover their monthly operating and other expenses (MOOE) and capital outlay.
Lacson wondered where the PNP and BFP would source their funds when they respond to calamities since their respective QRFs have already been sidelined.
“From 2016 to date, how did they cope with lack of funds? Saan nila kinukuha (Where did they source it)? They continuously respond to calamities. In Taal, for example, I heard at least six of their personnel got afflicted with some disease in the lungs because of the sulfur,” Lacson added.
Angara said the PNP and BFP just have to make do with their regular budgets and ask the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) for their QRFs but warned it usually takes time before funds are released due to the tedious review and processing of requests.