Iloilo Rep. Jerry Trenas of the Liberal Party (LP) and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali on Wednesday attributed to the Disbursement Acceleration Fund (DAP) the supposedly more accurate weather forecasts by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).
The LP is headed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
In a statement, Trenas said the DAP financed some components of Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), helping the country brace for Typhoon Glenda (international name: Rammasun.
“If not for DAP and if not for Pagasa’s restored credibility, a colossal typhoon like Typhoon Glenda could have been deadly for a lot of people. It’s good that our people now believe in Pagasa’s weather forecasts,” he added.
Umali, chairman of the House energy committee, also in a statement said preparedness has improved, noting the response of people and the government to Glenda.
When asked what response has improved, he replied in a text message, “I guess the advance warning system and better coordination of national and local governments.”
The controversial DAP, however, was not a factor in three other lawmakers’ perception of much improved weather forecasts.
Marikina City (Metro Manila) Rep. Miro Quimbo agreed and noted also in a text message that Marikina has learned from its experience since Typhoon Ondoy (international name: Ketsana) ravaged the city in 2009.
“The government has also placed in so much investment in weather forecasting that now allows us to reasonably predict the weather with accuracy,” he said.
Silvestre Bello 3rd of 1-BAP party-list said also in a text message, “After the Yolanda [international name: Haiyan]experience, government must have learned a lot and in fairness, is better prepared now.”
Deputy Majority Floor Leader and Citizens Battle Against Corruption (Cibac) party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna also answered in the affirmative when asked if the government is now better prepared to cope with powerful storms.
Through the DAP, the government allocated P275 million for DOST’s National Meteorological Climate Center, which equipped Pagasa with modern information technology facilities and research laboratories for weather and climate modeling predictions, as well as research and training on various weather-climate hazards, Trenas said.
Another P150 million, he added, was allotted for the enhancement of Pagasa’s Doppler Radar Network for National Weather Watch, Accurate Forecasting and Flood Early Warning.
Trenas said this enabled the government to acquire additional Doppler radars and establish three Doppler Radar Stations in the country’s western seaboard.
The DAP-funded projects, he added, helped even during Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.
“The government managed to make a very accurate forecast on Typhoon Yolanda two days before it made landfall inside the Philippine Area of Responsibility. This enabled the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to give advance warnings to local authorities for them to evacuate their constituents because of the powerful nature of the typhoon,” Trenas’ statement read.
“Notable projects such as Project NOAH are just one of the many reasons why President Aquino is disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision to declare the DAP ‘unconstitutional,’” it said.
But the President’s disappointment, Trenas said, does not mean that he is challenging the High Court or is threatening it, saying the President is “simply expressing his position.”
“[H]e has every right to feel disappointed. People should stop putting words into his mouth,” he added.
Umali said Aquino’s quick response was only right, saying the DAP enabled the government to fast-track electrification projects.
“[W]ith the P1.26-billion DAP fund, it even exceeded the Sitio Electrification Project target of 4,053 sitios, thus reaching 6,163 or 152 percent project completion,” his statement also read.
Meanwhile, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares also on Wednesday said the DAP needs accounting. Also in a text message, he noted that it was not enough that the Department of Budget and Management released the list of 116 DAP-funded projects.
Colmenares said it is not too late for the Commission on Audit to audit DAP transactions “but that shows the problem with pork barrel like the DAP” that, he added, is difficult to audit.
Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon said also in a text message that they want to know how much went to each DAP-funded project.