ORMOC CITY– The top three policy-making bodies in Eastern Visayas approved on Monday(Dec.3) a resolution asking the central government to reallocate the P729.67 million unused ‘Yolanda’ funds that had been returned to the National Treasury.
Members of the Regional Development Council (RDC), Regional Peace and Order Council, and the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council unanimously endorsed the proposal presented by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
NEDA Regional Director Bonifacio Uy is optimistic that the main offices of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and NEDA will consider the proposal since there are still many post-Yolanda unfunded projects.
The unspent budget is under the 2016 “Yolanda” Recovery and Reconstruction Program that “remained untapped and were not released until the expiration of the validity of the funds last Dec. 31, 2017,” Uy said during the quarterly Regional Project Monitoring Committee meeting.
The 2016 allocation was released late in 2016 or early 2017, giving the agencies less time to procure and obligate the funds within the year.
The consolidated unspent budget came from the calamity fund, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund, quick response fund, automatic and supplemental appropriation, realignments and savings, and regular agency funds, among others.
These funds were not utilized as some agencies encountered issues in the procurement of “Yolanda” projects, such as processing of documents and usufruct agreement, according to NEDA.
Of the nine agencies and universities with unspent outlay, the top three with returned allocations are the Department of Social Welfare and Development (P493.2 million), the Department of Agriculture (P114.14 million), and the Visayas State University (P80.05 million).
Others on the list are the Department of Public Works and Highways (P26.24 million), the Department of Health (P7.9 million), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (P4.34 million), the Leyte Normal University (P3.6 million), the Professional Regulation Commission (P178,745), and the Northwest Samar State University (P1,111).
In a letter, Presidential Assistant for Special Concerns Wendel Avisado recommended the use of the funds as subsidy for individual water service connections in all relocation sites, as proposed by the Local Water Utilities Authority.
“The subsidy is highly recommended as it is crucial in the sustainability and livability of the resettlement sites and is beyond the coverage of the regular national government subsidy to the agency,” Avisado said in his letter to the NEDA regional office here.
The P495-million water system project will only cover the extension of water distribution pipes, develop two new sources in the city’s northern villages, set up and repair old pumping stations, set up a new reservoir, upgrade the existing reservoir, and rehabilitate the city’s water pipes.
More than 14,000 families transferred to the northern part of the city will benefit from this water connection project.
Since the super typhoon struck in 2013, some P146.2 billion had already been released for post-disaster recovery in all affected areas in central Philippines. About 46 percent of the funds or P67.1 billion was intended for Eastern Visayas.
In the second quarter of 2018, the RDC in Eastern Visayas and NEDA Board Regional Development Committee for the Visayas passed a separate resolution requesting the Office of the President to facilitate the reallocation of reverted post-disaster funds.