Press Release
August 26, 2008

Pour aid, advance IRA of strife-hit towns - Villar

Government should advance the Internal Revenue Allotment of places affected by the strife in the South, Senate President Manny Villar said, adding that local governments need the "frontloaded resources" to aid refugees and rebuild structures destroyed by rebel pillaging.

And when the IRA for the rest of the year is made available to towns and cities "on the frontlines," Villar said the government should throw in "some extra cash so these places can get back on their feet again soon."

Villar said towns, cities and provinces hit by MILF attacks are being saddled by "unforeseen expenses caused by unforeseen events."

Villar said towns need money to "care for the wounded, aid the displaced, bury the dead, rebuild homes, heal psychological wounds, construct damaged public infrastructure and other things needed to make things normal again."

Even places not directly hit by marauding MILF forces who looted, burned and killed in several towns in Mindanao last week are also feeling the brunt of the conflict, Villar said.

"Cities like Ozamiz, Iligan, Tangub are now flooded with refugees who must be fed, housed, clothed and comforted. Their thin resources are now overstretched. The national government must now help," he said.

For starters, the national government can release part of the P2-billion Calamity Fund to areas hit "by this man-made calamity," Villar said.

"This can be complemented by funds to be taken from the P800 million Contingent Fund, which is under the discretion of the President to release," Villar said.

But one big source of financing Mindanao's "rise from the ashes" is the full release of its 30- percent share of "lump-sum funds" in the P1.227 trillion 2008 national budget, Villar said.

A provision in the budget, he explained, explicitly earmarks this share for Mindanao's six regions.

On what is already due to LGUs, the IRA, which is 40 percent of internal revenue collected three years before, Villar said the schedule of release of the share of conflict-affected areas should be accelerated.

"The government should now advance the IRA funds so these can be used by LGUs in coping with the emergency," he said.

Ozamiz and Tangub cities in Misamis Occidental have an IRA of P265.82 million and P205.8 million this year. Iligan City has P658.4 million while the Province of Lanao del Norte is entitled to P475.14 million and towns under it, P793.94 million, and barangays, P433.86 million.

Saranggani, which was also hit by the MILF has total IRA share of P1.22 billion while the province of North Cotabato is getting P863.54 million and its towns P1.33 billion.

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