Disaster funds dispersed under federalism – Andaya

By Jess Diaz

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“There would be faster delivery of aid during calamities and faster reconstruction of damaged areas which, at present, are undertakings which must first be approved by the central government,” Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. said. KJ Rosales/Philstar.com/File Photo

MANILA, Philippines — Disaster or calamity funds will be dispersed to the regions or states under the envisioned federal system, a former budget secretary and now Bicol congressman said yesterday.

Bicolanos would be receiving help faster amid the eruption of Mayon Volcano if the nation were operating under a federal form of government, Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. pointed out.

“There would be faster delivery of aid during calamities and faster reconstruction of damaged areas which, at present, are undertakings which must first be approved by the central government,” he said.

Andaya added the present system “has created a Manila-dependent mentality, and even mendicancy, when it comes to disaster management.”

Recalling his own experience as budget secretary during the Arroyo administration, Andaya said calamity-related requests passed through the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

“These were reviewed by the Office for Civil Defense, then back to the NDRRMC, then submitted to the Office of the President, then endorsed to the Department of Budget and Management before the funds are released,” he said.

Andaya said the repair of a typhoon-damaged school building in a remote barangay has to be decided in the concerned agency’s Manila office.

“If you ask for road repair funds, there is a lot of paperwork involved. Certifications, pictures, work and financial plans, and resolutions are required. The documentation flow is complicated and passes through several layers in the bureaucracy,” he explained.

Andaya pointed out that under federalism, a state would “have the resources to handle its own disaster risk management program, from building up resilience to rebuilding destroyed infrastructure.”

“We should devolve a great part of climate change adaptation work to the regions, including the resources, because the nearer these are to the ground, the faster they can be deployed in times of emergency,” he stressed.

Andaya said a fresh approach in disaster risk management is needed “for a country that is the second most disaster-prone in the world.”

“And Bicol, on account of geographical features and location, is the most vulnerable to calamities. Bicol is right smack in the typhoon alley. We provide the welcome mat to most of the typhoons that make landfall,” he said. – Ghio Ong

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