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Malacanang: Government has sufficient money to fund relief efforts

MALACANANG, Philippines – The government has more than P4 billion remaining in the calamity fund and a savings of P6 billion that can be used for relief and rehabilitation efforts in areas devastated by Typhoon Nona, the Palace said on Wednesday.
And in the 2016 budget that is expected to be approved soon, there is a provision of P19 billion in the calamity fund, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. told reporters during a press briefing in Malacañang.
“Ang ginagamit ngayon ay ‘yung mga quick response funds ng mga kagawaran natin. Ina-augment kaagad ng DBM (Department of Budget and Management) para ma-release ang quick response funds para makatulong kaagad sa ating mga kababayan,” Secretary Coloma said. President Benigno S. Aquino III has received reports from the field, as well as from governors and congressmen regarding the impact of Typhoon Nona, he said, noting those reports however need to be validated.
The President is still waiting for the report from Mindoro Oriental, the area where the typhoon made the last landfall, he said. Authorities are still determining the extent of the damage in the province.
Coloma said that based on procedures, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) must make a rapid assessment of the necessary relief and rehabilitation efforts, to be followed by a more detailed needs assessment to be carried out by the local DRRMC.
Immediately after the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board meeting on Wednesday, there was a meeting among Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson, Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Committee Chairman Chito Cruz, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, and a representative of Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman.
They discussed ways to implement the President’s directives to give immediate relief to the victims of Typhoon Nona, especially how to provide them shelter.
“While validation is still going on, ang immediate concern natin dito ay mabigyan sila ng shelter,” Coloma said.
“So ‘yung emergency shelter, una muna bibigyan sila ng tarpaulins o mga tents, pero eventually, they will be given GI sheets and construction materials para mapabilis ‘yung pag-rebuild ng kanilang bahay.”
Despite the ongoing validation, the Department of Social Welfare and Development has begun identifying recipients of government support, the Palace official said, adding that people in devastated areas will be listed in the cash-for-work program to facilitate the rebuilding of their houses.
Another government priority, he said, is the restoration of power and according to the Department of Energy, it will give priority to town centers where the people could gather during Christmas.
A major concern is the large number of toppled electric posts, especially in Northern Samar, which Coloma estimated at 80 percent of all the posts in the province.
“So hindi ganoon kadali pero sisikaping maibalik ‘yung kuryente sa lalong madaling panahon para magkaroon naman sila ng maliwanag na Kapaskuhan,” he said.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.