Rehabilitation of Yolanda-affected areas remains an administration priority

From the Department of Budget and Management

The administration continues to prioritize the rehabiltation of areas affected by Yolanda, putting strong emphasis on “building-back-better” and rapid disaster aid.

Arsenio Balicasan of the National Economic and Development Authority visits rehabilitation projects being done in Tacloban City, Leyte.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) today said that the rehabilitation of Yolanda-affected areas remains an Administration priority—both in the execution of key Yolanda projects and in the allocation of funds to support all rehabilitation initiatives—with a double emphasis on “building-back-better” and rapid post-disaster aid.

The budget agency also stressed that the National Government’s rehabilitation program for Yolanda-stricken areas is supposed to be independent of political influence or affiliation, adding that the Aquino administration’s post-disaster aid is focused entirely on assisting Yolanda victims.

The DBM made the statement after Social Watch alleged that funding sources for Yolanda aid were “insecure,” with the group suggesting that “political pressure” was necessary to get Yolanda funds moving.

“Independent of media coverage and the approaching 2016 elections, the Aquino Administration continues the vigorous work of restoring normalcy in Yolanda-affected areas. Our biggest concern lies in protecting the welfare of Yolanda victims, both in the immediate and long term. That is in fact reflected in the National Budget, which provides several funding sources for Yolanda aid. These fund sources are far from uncertain; they are at once generous and reliable,” Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said.

“Political pressure is also not necessary for this Administration to exert all efforts for Yolanda victims. We understand the urgency of the problem, as Social Watch itself clearly does. But we need to balance the need for rapid aid with our long-term disaster management goals.  Of course, we welcome criticism by concerned groups, but that criticism should not mislead, and neither should it be supported by erroneous data,” Abad added.

As of June 30, 2015, the total amount of P88.96 billion has been released for the Yolanda relief and rehabilitation operations. The sources for these funds include the Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 Calamity Fund, the FY 2013 Regular Budget of agencies, the FY 2013 Calamity Fund, and the FY 2013 Unprogrammed Funds.

The Eastern Visayas Medical Center Modernization Project in Tacloban City, Leyte

Besides these, Yolanda rehabilitation and reconstruction activities are likewise supported by the FY 2014 Supplemental Appropriations, the FY 2014 National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (NDRRMF), the FY 2014 Regular Budget of agencies, and the FY 2014 Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program.

In addition, the FY 2015 NDRRMF, the FY 2015 Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Fund, and the FY 2015 Unprogrammed Fund can also fund the post-Yolanda work.

Unprogrammed Funds were also tapped to fund various housing initiatives under the Yolanda rehabilitation program since there were excess revenue collections certified by the Bureau of Treasury (BTr), as provided for in the Special Provisions of the Unprogrammed Funds in the 2015 General Appropriations Act (GAA).

While some funds for Yolanda aid also support rehabilitation efforts in other disaster-affected areas—such as those stricken by the Bohol earthquake and other typhoons—the government continues to prioritize the needs of Yolanda victims.

“There’s a lot more work to be done to rehabilitate all affected communities. But we are proceeding at the pace that will benefit the victims in the long-term. That takes a bit more time than band-aid solutions. We need to build back better with structures and communities that are better-protected against future disasters. That’s exactly what we are doing,” Abad said.

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