ILOILO City: Just five days before the May 9 elections, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad announced that P842.5 million for El Niño mitigation programs implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has been released.
It, however, raised questions on whether this budget might be used to bolster administration standard-bearer Manuel Roxas 2nd’s chances of winning in next week’s local and national polls.
In an interview, Abad on Wednesday explained that the release of the P842.5 million is really more of a replenishment of the DSWD’s Quick Respond Fund (QRF), which includes “the purchase of family food packs for pre-positioning and disaster augmentation, cash or food-for-work programs, shelter assistance and additional relief supplies.”
“Iyan pa ba namang calamity popolitikahin pa natin [Do you think we will make political capital out of the El Nino budget]? You know that will be so cruel. So I don’t know, wala e [there is nothing political in it],” the Budget secretary told reporters.
“We have to replenish the QRF of DSWD, you know the QRF is the fastest way of by which an agency can respond to an emergency or a calamity. It’s a facility that we introduced so that they don’t have to go through the approval processes that delay response. So the QRF is a facility to ensure that when needed, an agency has money,” Abad said.
The fund release, according to him, was the second augmentation of DSWD’s QRF for this year.
On April 1, the Budget department augmented the DSWD’s QRF with P662.5 million.
Of the nearly P2-billion QRF allotment that the DSWD received this year, the agency has obligated P1.516 billion as of April 19, Abad said.
He added that QRF represents pre-disaster or standby fund for agencies to immediately assist areas stricken by disasters and calamities.
Aside from the DSWD, Abad said agencies with QRFs include the Departments of Public Works and Highways, National Defense (Office of the Secretary and Office of the Civil Defense), Education and Agriculture.
These agencies may request augmentation of their QRFs when they get depleted, he added.
Abad said QRFs are sourced from the P19-billion appropriation in the national budget for disaster risk reduction and management.