(Eagle News) — The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) admitted it is running short of budget for calamity funds, particularly for many local government units affected by the Taal Volcano eruption as these LGUs already reported either “depleted” or nearly depleted risk reduction funds.
“We have received information on the ground that many of the local government units have now a depleted risk reduction and management fund,” said Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III Densing in a press briefing in Malacañan on Monday, Jan. 20.
He noted that the LGUs were just about to start their business tax collections for the year when the Taal Volcano eruption started.
“Wala pa ngang koleksyon masyado dahil ito nga yung buwan na kumukulekta sila ng business taxes (There isn’t much tax collection yet because it is only this month that they [the LGUS] will be collecting business taxes],” Densing explained.
-Additional funds sought from Congress, Palace-
He said that because of this, the DILG will be asking for additional funds for the LGUs from the House of Representatives and from the Office of the President, to help the local governments affected by the Taal Volcano eruption.
The DILG will soon be meeting with House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to discuss the possible allocation of additional funding for LGUs which have nearly depleted their calamity funds.
“Speaker Alan [Peter] Cayetano has already called upon us at the DILG to meet with him at the soonest possible time so that we can talk about the assistance that Congress can give to the situation right now,” Densing said.
“Hopefully we can get additional funding through Congress or sa pondo ng (from funds of the) Office of the President,” he said.
The DILG official also noted that Malacanang has acted “really fast” in the giving of assistance for calamities.
“They can process it within 24 hours especially in times where there is a calamity,” Densing said.
“Our experience is we immediately give assistance through the various agencies, OCD or DSWD if there are disasters happening on the ground. It’s quite possible that it can be used immediately. I think 72 hours is already long,” he added.