OPINION: Damn the rules on calamity fund

DEC 30/10-JAN 5, 2011

Oftentimes, Manila’s imperialism to Mindanao rears its ugly head in the form of laws and policies that do not fit to the conditions and realities of Mindanaoans. The often lopsided national budget bias to Metro Manila and Luzon  has resulted to dualism in the country’s development. This is seen in the continuing accelerated growths to an already developed Metro Manila and Luzon and the laggard growths of Mindanao areas. As always, since time immemorial, the island only eats up a third of the country’s budget while Mindanao has been the major food and natural resource supplier to the rest of the country. The policy-spawned development in the country needless to say has always put Mindanao in the sidelines.

On the particular score, the same, this newly issued implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 10121, otherwise known as the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, finds it undercurrents on the long historical neglect to Mindanao. Panabo City Mayor Jose Silvosa Sr is right to call for an immediate revision of the IRR that prohibits declaration of the calamity fund savings as savings on beginning balance of the general fund and put this in the freezer as reserved fund in case of calamity and for risk reduction and management for the next 5 years. What an unrealistic IRR! Just because an LGU experiences no calamity, and ergo, the supposed budget for it would be treated to be idle for the next five years? What if there would be no calamity that will strike to a town for the next 5 years? The scenario would be a bloated reserved fund or savings that cannot be used for productive and development endeavors for the welfare and good of the people, save for the portion of it that could be used for risk reduction projects such as drainage and slope protection infrastructures and the like. By this, the LGUs and the people are not given leeways to use the people’s taxes to where they are needed most.

The rules have shown otherwise the protective mindset of the people of Luzon who are often hit by typhoons and calamities year by year. Maybe the framers of the rules have in their mind that since their areas are calamity-prone, the unused budgets can be left to be bloated as reserved fund for diasasters and calamities as they would surely be hit by calamities every year and each time they are hit a more disastrous scale is left for greater repair and rehabilitation requiring more resources from the government. But this isn’t the case in Mindanao.

“The rules are inappropriate, not all-embracing and need to be revised,” says Panabo City Mayor Silvosa. We need not say more.  (Cha Monforte)

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