Salceda proposes LGUs calamity fund scheme

Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, chairperson of the House Ways and Means committee and co-hairperson of the Economic Recovery Cluster on Saturday, Nov. 14, said he would push for a budgetary mechanism that would allow local government units (LGUs) to help each other in times of severe calamities. Salceda citing Section 21 of the Philippine Disaster Reduction and Management Act or RA 10121 said the law could give LGUs unaffected by recent typhoons and with underutilized local disaster risk reduction management funds (LDRRMF) to mobilize resources to assist other LGUs impacted by calamities.

“We call on local governments unaffected by the recent typhoons to help their fellow Filipinos during their hour of need by transferring their LDRRMFs and mobilizing other available resources to urgently aid communities affected by the recent storms,” Salceda said.

The review of the utilization of the LDRRMF by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) shows that many LGUs have underutilized local DRRM funds in recent years, yet should now be used for its intended purpose.

Under Section 21 of RA 10121, LDRRMCs “may transfer the said fund to support disaster risk reduction work of other LDRRMCs which are declared under a state of calamity”.

The Albay solon said the problem with LDRRM fund, which is 5 percent of LGU revenues, is that poor communities with less revenues are also the ones most hard-hit by disasters, while, rich LGUs also tend not to have too many disasters to deal with. Thus, their LDRRM funds are often underutilized.

“That’s why I am pushing for a national counterpart financing mechanism that would provide additional funding for LGUs based on risk exposure to disasters,” he said.

“The barrage of storms that hit our country in the past three weeks has once again shown that the climate crisis disproportionately affects poor and underserved communities. Natural disasters impact local communities that are not only highly exposed and vulnerable to enhanced hazards, but also lack the adequate resources and capacities to respond to emergencies,” Salceda added.

“While that national counterpart mechanism doesn’t exist yet, we local communities will have to rely on each other to solve this allocation problem,” Salceda explained.

Salceda added that there should be a robust and institutionalized national disaster framework, capable of marshaling the resources of the state when needed, and that the creation of the Department of Disaster Resilience will help meet this need.

“Many vulnerable LGUs are also already stretched thin. Local resource problems are worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic, as many local governments have used much of their resources to also address the impacts of this global problem,” Salced said.

Salceda added that he will work with the DBM and the Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF) to come up with a risk-pooling mechanism that will provide proportionately more resources to LGUs most exposed to disasters.

Salceda said the BLGF could also help LGUs institute municipal and provincial counterparts of the Catastrophe Bonds or CAT bonds enabled by the World Bank for the Philippines.

Salceda, who is also vice-chairperson of the House Committee on Appropriations, says he will work with the budget committee to direct 2021 fiscal resources towards communities hard-hit by typhoons this year.

He said “ When I was Governor of Albay, we organized a disaster response team called Team Albay, for mobilization in other LGUs in need of Albay’s help. We realized that Albay had a wealth of DRR experience that other LGUs in critical need could use. We made use of Section 21 of RA 10121 to mobilize efforts in other communities.”