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Legarda: Utilize Funds for El Niño Now

April 8, 2016

Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committees on Finance and Climate Change, today said that the government must utilize available funds to mitigate and adapt to the El Niño phenomenon, stressing that this should have already been done since the government has been sufficiently warned by the state weather bureau since 2014.

Legarda made the statement in a Senate briefing on Friday, April 8, about how the government has disbursed and used public funds allocated for mitigation and adaptation to the impacts of El Niño phenomenon.

Agencies present were the Department of Agriculture (DA), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Climate Change Commission (CCC), National Food Authority (NFA), and National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

“We have the funds, but they are not being accessed. The NFA said there’s no rice shortage, but people died asking for rice. We must not wait for our people to ask government for help because we have already been warned of the El Niño phenomenon since 2014. We must be proactive and anticipate our people’s needs. That’s why we have planning processes and that’s why we allocated funds,” said Legarda.

The DA still has P11.9 million balance in its quick response fund (QRF) for 2015 and P496.6 million for 2016; the DSWD has a balance of P703.6 million in its 2015 QRF and P1.6 billion for 2016. Meanwhile, there is still P5 billion NDRRM Fund for 2015 and P43 billion for 2016.

Legarda said that national government agencies must work closely with local government units (LGUs) on how they can access additional funds from the central government, such as the NDRRM Fund, QRF, and the People’s Survival Fund.

“The government must reach out to the LGUs, to our people, especially the underserved and unserved communities. Government’s support must reach far-flung communities. If our farmers cannot plant rice due to the drought, the government must give them alternative sources of income and livelihood. The government can offer climate-sensitive cash-for-work programs such as desilting of rivers, building of barangay nurseries, building water catchment facilities, waste segregation, among others,” she stressed.

The Senator said that the 2016 General Appropriations Act is filled with general and special provisions on how funds can be utilized for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Among the provisions is the support of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to all agrarian reform communities (ARCs) for them to be attuned to climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, and for the DA to increase the resilience of agricultural communities through the implementation of disaster-resilient agricultural infrastructure projects, distribution and development of seeds that are optimally adaptive to present and to future climate conditions, and conduct seminars and trainings for LGUs.