Congress exercises oversight functions over relief and rehab fund (Yolanda, other calamities)

Manila, Philippines - Amid growing concerns on the transparency and accountability in the use of funds intended for calamity response, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon today, November 26, 2013 has vowed to oversee the disbursement of relief and rehabilitation funds that the Congress had pledged to provide to national government for its aid and rebuilding programs to damages caused by recent calamities such as Typhoon Yolanda, Bohol and Cebu earthquake.

Franklin Drilon on Typhoon Yolanda relief funds

"We assure that the Congress will fully carry out its oversight functions over the utilization of relief and rehabilitation funds currently being raised to support the government in addressing both the immediate and long-term needs of the people and areas victimized by the past calamitous events," said Drilon.

"Our role as legislators also covers the monitoring of public spending to guarantee that the funds we authorize to the executive to spend are indeed spent properly and purposely," he added.

According to Drilon, while public funds are being made available for government's disposal, the need to monitor and fully account the funds' flow remains.

"We need a source of funding flexible enough to address the objectives of relief and rehabilitation operations done by the line agencies, but still there must be systems of accountability and checks employed," pointed out Drilon.

The Senate chief also said that they will observe the absorptive capacities of the agencies that will use these funding and if necessary, they are willing to augment the funding requirements only to ensure that all areas and all victims will be covered in the relief and rebuilding efforts.

"We will keep an eye on the ability of the agencies dealing with disaster relief and rehabilitation activities, especially the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Social Welfare and Development, to make sure that they are able to implement the much-needed programs and projects promptly and efficiently," said Drilon.

He said there are relevant committees that will closely monitor the funds' utilization, and will observe the absorptive capacities of the agencies such as the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Public Expenditures.

Right now, Drilon said the priority of both the House and the Senate is to look for funds that can be tapped by the government to boost its relief and rehabilitation efforts on areas heavily damaged by the past calamities particularly super typhoon "Yolanda".

The Congress, according to Drilon, will be allocating P55.4 billion funds to the national government to be used solely for the rehabilitation of infrastructure damaged by calamities including school buildings, power supply utilities, roads and bridges, and even houses.

The P55.4 billion will be sourced from the proposed P14.6-billion supplemental budget using the unused Priority Development Assistance Fund which was declared unconstitutional, and the calamity-related funds which are expected to remain unobligated and unreleased estimated to be P20.8 billion by the year-end.

The other source is the P20 billion rehabilitation fund that was already appropriated in the 2014 national budget.

The funds are on top of the regular budget for the calamity and quick response funds already in the 2014 national budget.

Previous Post Next Post