Press Release
July 23, 2008

P6-Billion Paglaum Fund to help victims rise up from Frank's deluge

Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri proposed a P6 Billion Paglaum Fund yesterday for the rehabilitation of Western Visayas provinces badly hit by Typhoon Frank. Paglaum means hope in Ilonggo. Zubiri was at the midst of the relief efforts being a Red Cross Governor.

"Speaking from my own experience in the typhoon-ravaged areas, Aklan, Antique, Capiz and Iloilo all in Panay Island , and Northern Negros Occidental, really got the brunt of the typhoon. The Fund to help them will be separate from the regular appropriations for these provinces to be provided for under the 2009 Appropriations Act."

Zubiri stressed that through Senate Bill 2457 he is "proposing not a run-of-the-mill relief and rescue program. Many of the disaster response systems and funding programs have to be reviewed. A lot are outdated or top-heavy such that well-meaning civic and government groups could not respond more instantaneously to help the people."

"This bill aims to create a template for future relief and rehabilitation programs. We want to set in place airtight systems. Right from the stage of proposing activities to be funded, equipment and supplies to be purchased down to the monitoring of the fund flows and work-in-progress reports are required of all agencies concerned. Until the Fund is depleted, we shall be on the watch," Zubiri said.

Activities shall be limited to the following: "rehabilitation, repair and reconstruction of roads, bridges, irrigation systems, school buildings, government buildings, sea ports and airports, Department of Health and regional hospitals, and other infrastructures; purchase of school desks, textbooks and workbooks, hospital equipment, supplies and medicines; purchase of relocation sites and construction of housing units; and funding for the Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Services (CIDSS) under the Department of Social Welfare and Development, livelihood programs and support to farmers and fishermen, and other agricultural support programs."

Zubiri said he felt sure these activities "will empower the communities to implement pre-disaster and post-disaster measures."

"I am confident that the adoption of measures to safeguard the funding and implementing processes will not turn this Paglaum Fund into a "been there-done that" item, that once the last peso is spent, everything is forgotten. I want this fund to proceed with prudence but enable the stakeholders to rise up from the deluge brought by Typhoon Frank."

The bill will be closely monitored and will be as transparent as any funding activity should be. Section 9 of S. B. 2457 provides: "SECTION 9. Submission to Congress. - The Commission shall submit to the Congress of the Philippines, through the Chairmen of the Committee on Appropriations, in the case of the House of Representatives, and Committee on Finance, in the case of the Senate, an itemized list of projects to be funded under the Fund within thirty days from the approval of the President."

"The Paglaum Fund is really needed because the magnitude of relief and repair to be implemented cannot be sustained by the LGU budgets, nor the donations."

Zubiri also proposed the creation of the Paglaum Fund Commission "composed of Region 6's Regional Development Council Chairman as Chairman and the Regional Directors of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Area Manager of the National Housing Authority (NHA), as members, and two (2) members from the Local Government Units and two (2) Members of the House of Representatives, all from Region 6, and to be appointed by the President."

"Members of the Commission shall not receive any remuneration or compensation in relation to their tasks in the Commission."

The bill also specified that "the Commission may also accept proposals for funding from the LGUs, other government agencies and the private sector, such as non-governmental organizations and people's organizations and conduct consultations in identifying the priority projects to be funded."

Zubiri recalled that "when typhoons Milenyo, Paeng, Reming and Seniang hit the country, we sought a wide-arching and comprehensive program to address the needs of affected populace and rebuild the various types of infrastructure. The relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation was carried out by national agencies and Local Government Units as part of the Calamity Fund and Calamity Assistance and Rehabilitation Effort (CARE)."

The National Disaster Coordinating Council estimated that the damage wrought by typhoon Frank is P13.3 Billion throughout the country. Of these total damages from typhoon Frank, Panay incurred a large portion. Of 40 areas declared under a state of calamity, four provinces, two cities and one town were from Western Visayas ; 37 hospitals of the Region's hospitals were destroyed; 5,947 families or 29,639 persons needed immediate and long-term food assistance; 44,078 homes were partially destroyed and 11,646 homes totally destroyed.

Typhoon Frank's victims "need consistent and long-term availability of material, financial and logistical resources that cannot be sustained by donations alone."

" Panay is a major agricultural, agro-industrial and tourism area in the country. It is vital to the country's food security being the "food basket" in the Visayas. Thus, we need to at least bring back Panay Island comparative to its situation prior to the devastation of typhoon Frank," Zubiri said.

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