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Depleted calamity fund impedes LGUs' typhoon response

Local government units on Tuesday lamented that their typhoon response was hobbled by a lack of funds after their budget for calamities was used up to aid residents affected by lockdowns imposed to prevent coronavirus transmission.

According to Maki Pulido’s report on “24 Oras,” the Calumpit, Bulacan government said the last of its calamity fund was used up for the distribution of relief goods to residents hit by Tropical Storm Pepito.

“Wala na po talaga. Ito po ay may maliit lang na amount na talagang pagkukunan namin sa ngayon pero sa darating na panahon, hindi na po natin kakayaning magbigay pa ng tulong na manggagaling sa calamity fund,” Mayor Jessie de Jesus said.

Baliuag’s P150-million calamity fund was also used for five tranches of aid distribution to residents hit by the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine.

To respond to other calamities, the Mayor Ferdinand Estrella said the local government would need to use the development fund intended for projects like rehabilitation of health centers and irrigation or road construction projects.

“Wala na po kaming magagawa kung hindi kahit papaano po ay talagang pamimigay po namin ‘yung mga naka-budget po para sa mga gawain dito po sa bayan namin ay ‘yun na lang po talaga ang malilipat po namin para sa pagresponde sa problema po ng kalamidad,” he said.

Local authorities appealed for help from Malacañang, which redirected them to national agencies that have a quick response fund like the Office of Civil Defense and Department of Social Welfare and Development. 

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said it ensures that agencies have the needed quick response funds but added that only P3.6 billion is left of the P16-billion national disaster risk reduction and management fund.

The DBM also said it may need to ask Congress for more funds to respond to the onslaught of Typhoon Rolly.—Julia Mari Ornedo/LDF, GMA News