Solon proposes use of LGU disaster fund to cover the hiring of rescue personnel

November 6, 2014 12:13 am 

By Sammy F. Martin

MANILA, Nov. 5 (PNA) — A senior member of the House of Representatives is pushing for the expanded use of local government units' (LGU) disaster fund to cover the hiring of rescue personnel and the building of infrastructures for disaster mitigation almost a year after the devastation brought about by Typhoon "Yolanda."

In House Bill No. 5097, Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian underscored today the urgent need to broaden the options of the LGUs in the utilization of the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (LDRRMF).

HB No. 5097, which Gatchalian filed ahead of the Typhoon Yolanda commemoration, seeks to enable LDRRMOs to hire adequate rescue personnel who will also implement the LGUs’ disaster management programs. The salaries and benefits of the personnel will be funded by the LDRRMF.

“In the unfortunate event that disaster or calamity strikes, it is the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office in the LGU that is at the forefront of mother nature’s wrath in providing safety and protection for their constituents. It’s about time that we give them the necessary funding for rescue operations,” said Gatchalian, himself a former Valenzuela City mayor for nine years.

The Valenzuela lawmaker is hopeful that his proposed law will better prepare LGUs to cope with disasters similar to what occurred on Nov. 8, 2013 when one of the world's strongest typhoons (International name: Haiyan) destroyed a large part of Eastern, Central and Western Visayas and claimed over 6,000 lives.

The National Economic and Development Authority estimated in December 2013 that about Php 361 billion in investments is needed for recovery and reconstruction, more than double the Php 167.9-billion funding required by the Yolanda Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan (CRRP) recently approved by the President.

Under Republic Act 10121, also known as the Philippines Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, the calamity funds of LGUs has been converted into the LDRRMF, which may be used for projects on disaster preparedness and mitigation such as the purchase of rescue equipment, supplies, and medicine.

R.A. 10121 also aims to have the construction of infrastructure projects designed to protect against disasters charged to the LDRRMF. The projects have to be green-lit by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDDRMC).

Gatchalian also proposed that the LDRRMF be used to pay for obligations the LGUs incurred in the repair and reconstruction of disaster-struck infrastructures.

“Unspent LDRRMF within the given year should also be reverted back to general fund within the next three years instead of the current five. It will be placed in a special trust fund supporting LDRRMC activities,” he said in his explanatory note.

“If it remains unconsumed after three years instead of five, it will again be returned to the general fund and be made available for social services by local Sanggunian,” he added. (PNA)

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