Senators urge gov’t to realign anti-insurgency fund for typhoon victims

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 5, 2020   •   283

Several senators have urged the government to realign the P19 billion-peso anti-insurgency fund and allot the same to the victims of the typhoons that devastated the country.

Senator Risa Hontiveros said a portion of the said budget should be allotted for the rehabilitation of affected communities, particularly in the Bicol region.

“I will call for a portion of it to be reallocated to typhoon rehabilitation and I’ve already called for P8 billion to be reallocated to health. Mag-reallocate din po tayo para sa mga kababayan nating nasalanta (We should reallocate for our fellowmen affected by the disaster),” she said.

The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) will allot the P19 billion-peso fund for next year, aiming to curb the influence of communist groups in barangays.

Senator Franklin Drilon also supported the said proposal of budget realignment, saying the said budget might be used in projects that might be prone to corruption.

“Instead of using P19 billion to fund soft projects that are prone to corruption such as agricultural assistance, livelihood and technical vocational trainings, scholarship, and assistance to indigent individual or families, the funds should go directly to our kababayans devastated by the recent typhoons,” he said.

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said there is no need to realign the budget since the beneficiaries of the ELCAC program are also the typhoon victims.

Ang ELCAC na pondo po ay pupunta doon sa area na may insurgency problem dahil alam naman natin na kinakailangan magkaroon po
ng pag-unlad para mawala na iyang problema pagdating sa insurgency. At itong mga nasalanta ng bagyo po, they will be beneficiaries of the ELCAC funds
(The ELCAC fund will be allotted in areas with insurgency problem because we that is needed for progress and to curb insurgency in the area. Those who were affected by the typhoon, they will be beneficiaries of the ELCAC funds),” he said.

Ang malaking pondo po ay pupunta po dito sa Bicolandia at Catanduanes kung saan, aktibo naman po talaga ang mga insurgence (The funds will be allotted in Bicolandia and Catanduanes, where insurgence is active),” he added.

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said there are 49 barangays in region 5 that are considered conflict areas and will benefit from the anti-insurgency fund.

Esperon also said he respects the recommendation of several lawmakers, however, he reiterated the NTF-ELCAC funds should not be removed or realigned.

Diyan sa mga barangay na iyan, nandyan ang mga guerilla bases ng NPA. Paano mo tatanggalin iyan, kung na-clear mo na pagkatapos iiwanan mo lang? For a long time, wala silang development. Ngayong nagkaroon sila ng pagkakataon na mabigyan, tatanggalin mo pa? (The guerilla bases of the NPA are in those barangays. How will you clear those out, if you already did your job then just leave it at that? There has been no development for a long time. Now that there is an opportunity with the ELCAC budget, you will remove it)?” he said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said they are already reviewing the recommendations of the senators. -AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Taiwan donates disaster relief fund to Phl

Maris Federez   •   November 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) has turned over to the Philippine government its donation for the country’s disaster relief operations.

Representative Peiyung Hsu of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in the Philippines led the Taiwan delegation in the handing over of the donation worth US$ 200,000 as its “humanitarian assistance for the victims of the recent typhoons including Rolly and Ulysses, at a hand-over ceremony in TECO on 20 November 2020.”

A media release from TECO said Vice Chairman Gilberto F. Lauengco of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office accepted the donation on behalf of the Philippine government.

On the same occasion, Lauengco also received 700,000 pesos donated by Taiwan Association Inc. in the Philippines, the statement added.

TECO said, “As the closest neighbor of the Philippines, Taiwan expresses its heartfelt condolences to the families which lost their beloved ones in the aforementioned tragic disasters and extends a helping hand to the Philippines for its rehabilitation and recovery work.” — /mbmf

TESDA offers free skills training for residents in calamity-stricken areas

Robie de Guzman   •   November 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) said it will conduct free skills training in areas devastated by recent typhoons to help residents recover and revive their livelihood.

TESDA Secretary Isidro Lapeña gave this assurance as his agency conducted relief operations and turned over solar street light panels and portable charging stations in Marikina City and other affected communities in Region 2, Bicol, CALABARZON, and MIMAROPA.

Lapeña said they are closely coordinating with local government units (LGU) to continue to deliver its programs and help those who have been displaced and rendered homeless by the spate of typhoons that hit the country in the previous weeks.

He said TESDA regional offices have been consulting LGUs and affected residents on the implementation of relevant training programs that could help them find livelihood opportunities.

Lapeña said post-calamity assistance will come in the form of free skills training on carpentry, electrical installation and maintenance, plumbing and other construction-related courses “to help those whose houses were damaged be able to rebuild their dwellings without the need to hire additional carpenters and electricians.”

“In this way, the residents themselves, once equipped with the right skills, can help one another in re-constructing their houses.  Malaking bagay ito na makakatipid sila sa gastusin sa pagpapatayo ng kanilang bahay na nasira ng bagyong Rolly at Uysses,” he said.

The TESDA chief said cookery training program will also be offered for free in evacuation centers and affected communities “as an immediate relief.”

“By implementing a training program on cookery, the evacuees and residents themselves will have the resources to prepare and cook foods for their own consumption and would not be heavily dependent on relief food packs,” he said.

“Once they finish these training programs, these skills will remain useful which they can use to pursue jobs or new livelihoods,” he added.

Lapeña said TESDA trainers will conduct the training at the nearest and most conducive site located in the affected areas so that the trainees will no longer have to travel to the training centers.

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AFP, PNP shift to relief and rehabilitation ops in typhoon-hit areas

Robie de Guzman   •   November 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The military and police on Tuesday announced they have shifted their priority to massive relief distribution and rehabilitation efforts after days of intense search and rescue operations in areas that were severely affected by recent typhoons that barreled through the country.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson MGen. Edgard Arevalo said all available assets have been mobilized for the transport of relief goods.

Heavy engineering equipment and construction materials for families whose houses were destroyed by the storms were also transported.

“The AFP has shifted to massive relief distribution & rehabilitation operations. AFP Chief of Staff Gen Gilbert Gapay mobilized all sea, air, & land assets,”  Arevalo said.

Earlier in the day, the AFP sent off BRP Tarlac for humanitarian assistance and disaster response mission to Catanduanes in the Bicol region which was pummeled by Typhoon Rolly and Typhoon Ulysses in the previous weeks.

The Philippine National Police (PNP), for its part, said its relief efforts are ongoing for families affected by massive flooding in Cagayan Province.

PNP chief Gen. Debold Sinas said they have also mobilized their personnel and several police trucks to send relief items.

“Meron na kaming pinadala doon at least 5-man trucks. Nagpadala po ng 2,500 relief packages doon po sa Cagayan Province,” Sinas said.

The PNP chief also said they have allocated assistance for policemen whose homes were damaged by recent storms. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

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