Gov’t has enough funds for Taal eruption response — DBM
By Darryl John Esguerra
2020-01-14 18:06:04

BATANGAS CITY, Philippines — Government has enough funds to respond to the Taal volcano eruption, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) assured Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters before a situation briefing on Taal volcano eruption in this city, Acting Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado said government agencies considered as “first responders” to disasters may tap their quick response fund.

According to Avisado, the funds are already appropriated in the departments’ 2020 budget.

If the initial appropriation is not enough, the budget chief said government agencies “can request for additional” funds.

Avisado said the Department of Agriculture may use P1.5 billion in its 2020 budget; P2.5 billion for the Department of Education; P600 million for the Department of Health; P250 million for the Office of Civil Defense; P1 billion for the Department of Public Works and Highways; and P1.2 billion for the Department of Social Welfare and Development.a

“May pera tayo (We have the money),” he said.

He said that so far, the departments have not objected to the planned earmarking of funds.

While these funds were allocated for disaster response and not just for Taal volcano eruption, Avisado assured that it is enough for the government to assist those affected by the rumbling of the second-most-active volcano in the country.

“Lahat ng klase ng emergency. Hindi lang sa Taal. Hindi naman mauubos kaagad sa Taal ‘yan (It is for all kinds of emergency. Not just for Taal eruption. I don’t think it will be depleted just for Taal),” he said.

“Ang rehabilitation takes time. There are other departments that are into permanent rehabilitation programs. Iba naman yun (There are other funds for that), housing (etc.),” he added.

Asked if the government would consider asking for foreign assistance, Avisado said: “If there’s an order from the President.”

President Duterte is set to lead the situation briefing on Taal volcano eruption on Tuesday evening with local officials and heads of concerned government agencies.

He is also set to meet and extend assistance to some 3,500 evacuees here at the Batangas City Sports Complex.

Thousands have been evacuated in the province of Batangas after authorities declared an alert level 4 in Taal volcano, which means that an “explosive eruption” could happen in the coming hours or days. Its highest alert level is five, indicating an eruption is taking place.

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