Senator Loren Legarda has pushed for an inquiry on the conditional implementation of the 2011 and 2012 calamity fund on pre-disaster activities, stressing that such policy violates Republic Act 10121 or the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Act.
"Under the DRRM Act, the present calamity fund appropriated under the annual General Appropriations Act shall be known as the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (NDRRM) Fund and it shall be used for disaster risk reduction such as training of personnel, procurement of equipment, and capital expenditures," the Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change explained.
In filing Senate Resolution No. 673, Legarda expressed concern over the President's warning against the inclusion of disaster preparedness efforts-such as setting up relocation sites/facilities, and training of personnel engaged in direct disaster-in the use of the PhP5-billion Calamity Fund.
In the President's veto message on Republic Act 10147 or General Appropriations Act (GAA) for Fiscal Year 2011, he stated that the use of Calamity Fund for pre-disaster activities "must be weighed against the imperious need of maintaining sufficient provision under the Calamity Fund for actual calamities and prevent its full utilization for pre-disaster activities."
Legarda said that while the government assured that disaster prevention and mitigation are integrated in the agency budgets, existing resources must be strongly augmented to better prepare vulnerable communities amid the threats of climate change.
She pointed out that countries like China, Vietnam and Malaysia have all invested in DRR, which effectively reduced casualties and averted huge economic losses. For instance, China spent US$3.15 billion on flood control between 1960 and 2000, which is estimated to have averted losses of about US$12 billion.
"Disasters are getting bigger, deadlier and worse. Our cities are burgeoning and climate change impacts are intensifying along with disaster risks. In 2009, Typhoons Ondoy (Ketsana) and Pepeng (Parma) required US$4.42 billion for recovery and reconstruction efforts, while the onslaught of Tropical Storm Sendong (Washi) in December last year killed at least 1,257 persons and left PhP 1.39 billion in damages to infrastructure and agriculture," she said.
Legarda stressed that to avert huge losses when natural hazards strike, there must be a shift from reactionary to a proactive and preventive approach in addressing disasters.
"Investments on DRR such as flood control, forest management, hazard identification, mapping and assessment, research and development, preparedness and risk financing must be increased, made more effective and must show results," she explained.
"The use of Calamity Fund for pre-disaster activities presents an increased opportunity to immediately equip local governments with improved disaster preparedness," Legarda concluded.
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