Press Release
December 3, 2013

Senate extends life of 2013 calamity-related funds until December 2014

The Senate today adopted a resolution intended to further support the ongoing relief and rehabilitation efforts by the executive on areas of the country severely affected by natural and man-made calamities throughout the year.

Senate Joint Resolution No. 7 was approved with 12 yes votes, zero negative vote and one abstention, coming from Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile.

The resolution extends the validity of the unreleased and unobligated funds under the 2013 General Appropriations Act related to calamity response such as funds lodged under the calamity fund and quick response fund for one more year, thus allowing the government to commit them to next year's disaster response projects.

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon, who introduced the resolution, explained that it was passed to ensure that the "government will have adequate funds to respond to the magnitude of destruction caused by the past calamities, particularly super typhoon Yolanda."

"In turn, the resolution will make sure that the appropriations under the 2013 calamity fund, including those all unobligated and unreleased allotments for the calamity-related projects under the 2013 national budget will remain valid for use until December 31 of next year," he said.

Following the budgetary procedures, funds which remain unobligated and unreleased by the end of the year will be returned to the National Treasury and could not be used by the start of the next fiscal year, Drilon noted.

The Senate President pointed out that the continued use of the remaining funds, estimated to be around P12 billion by the end of the current fiscal year, will greatly augment efforts for the "rehabilitation, repair and construction of severely damaged infrastructure, buildings and facilities in order to accelerate recovery."

The funds will be allocated and released to the line agencies, which are now dealing with the damages made by past disasters this year - including super typhoon Yolanda that destroyed large areas in Central Visayas, the typhoon Santi and Labuyo that hit Luzon, the siege in Zamboanga City, and as well as the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit the Bohol and Cebu provinces; and other catastrophic calamities that hit the country in the previous months and years.

Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Chiz Escudero said his committee, the Senate Committee on Appropriations and the Commission on Audit will strictly require accountability of the disbursed funds. He said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) will require quarterly reports which will be reviewed before being listed on the DBM website for transparency purposes. For his part, Drilon vowed to oversee the disbursement of relief and rehabilitation funds that Congress pledged to provide to the national government for its aid and rebuilding programs.

"We assure that Congress will fully carry out its oversight functions over the utilization of relief and rehabilitation funds currently being raised to support the government in addressing both the immediate and long-term needs of the people and areas victimized by the past calamitous events," Drilon said.

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