Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri believes that the Paglaum Fund will help to fast-track the rehabilitation of Odette-affected provinces in the country, like Palawan, once the filed bill is approved.

Senate Bill No. 2487 was filed by Zubiri on January 14 that appropriates P20 billion for the rehabilitation after recording P17.7 billion infrastructural damage, P11.5 billion agricultural damage, and over 2.2 million families as cited from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) report.

“This is a supplemental budget para makapagbigay tayo both ayuda and imprastraktura sa mga areas na napinsala ng Odette—na-approve na namin sa senado ang budget ng ating 2022 national expenditure fund and hindi namin akalain na magkakaroon ng ganitong klaseng delubyo too close to 2022. It is not impotent, the damage has caused by typhoon Odette, although we have a bit of leeway in terms of funding for that, hindi ganoon kalaki,” he said.

Zubiri is also looking for the possibility to increase the allocation to above P30 billion when the budget is discussed with the senate once given a chance for another term. The bill seeks to increase the support for partially damaged houses between P25,000 to P30,000 and those totally damaged to about P50,000 to P60,000 each.

“Ang areas na tinamaan, Roxas, San Vicente, the other towns, marami ang partially and totally damaged homes. Although tumutulong ang NHA and DSWD, it’s not enough,” Zubiri said during his turnover of sacks of rice on Thursday.

“Iyon nga lang sabi ni speaker sa akin, too late na, pagbalik na lang namin hopefully on June 30, July 1, i-refile namin ‘yan para maipasa. Para we have long lasting assistance kasi hindi kaya ng local government,” he added.

The beneficiaries will be based on the master list to be provided by the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO). There is also a fund to be allocated to the Department of Public Works and Highways for the construction of damaged local and national infrastructures.

Establishing Department of Disaster Resilience

Under the Paglaum Fund, the NDRRMC will be tasked to create a rehabilitation plan for the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), identifying specific infrastructure projects for the rehabilitation.

Zubiri stressed that the rehabilitation plan will be effectively implemented and will not face controversies like Yolanda if the department will be established. He added that the Philippines is one of the countries with numerous calamities.

“We need an agency, a go to agency in-charge sa preparations, training, rescue on the ground, rehabilitation and reconstruction. Dapat ‘yan lahat ay nasa isang ahensya kasi ngayon nagtuturuan sila—alam mo ang NDRRMC law was a creation of typhoon Yolanda, gusto namin noon department, sabi nila coordinating council lang,” he said.

“Dumaan na tayo sa napakaraming delubyo, nakita natin na delayed palagi ang disaster relief, disaster rehabilitation, reconstruction, case in point ‘yong Taal volcano—Under the Department of Disaster Resilience, they must already identify sites that are hard-hit by calamities—they now must identify evacuation centers, typhoon-proof,” he added.

The department will be accountable and responsible for the stages of preparation, even after the calamity, Zubiri said. It should also be in charge of providing reports and follow-up on affected areas.

He mentioned the need to amend the NDRRMC law which was created in 2010 and create a new department.

“For example, tayo rito sa Palawan dahil medyo malayo tayo, we’re shut off from the mainland. Dapat ang Department of Disaster Resilience ay meron siyang office, central Palawan, southern Palawan, and northern Palawan. Nandiyan na ‘yong mga equipment na nabanggit ko, tutulong ‘yan sa mga local government units. Kapag nagkaroon ng disaster, galaw agad—‘yong preposition na rin yong relief goods para prior to the bagyo, malapit na yong pagkain, tubig malinis, equipment, and possible generator set na mailalagay,” he said.

Meanwhile, Zubiri said that a P10 million worth of multi-purpose building was given to Palawan to help COVID-19 response constructed in Barangay Irawan, Puerto Princesa City, and another P10 million worth of the multi-purpose building in Brgy. Liminangcong, Taytay. In 2022, two multi-purpose building-covered court facilities will be constructed in Roxas and San Vicente both amounting to P10 million for each project.

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is one of the senior reporters of Palawan News. She covers agriculture, business, and different feature stories. Her interests are collecting empty bottles, aesthetic earrings, and anything that is color yellow.