MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released to three departments helping in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic a total of P2.1 billion from funds included in this year’s national disaster risk reduction and management program (NDRRMP).
Documents showed that DBM released P1.5 billion to the Department of Agriculture (DA) through a special allotment release order (SARO) on April 1 “to cover the funding requirements for the replenishment of the quick response fund (QRF)” due to COVID-19.
Also from the 2020 NDRRMP, DBM issued a SARO worth P500 million to the Department of Health (DOH) to cover the agency’s additional QRF in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The March 16 SARO for DOH was supposed to “cover the funding requirements to address the emerging threat of COVID-19,” another document said.
On April 27, a total of P100 million in SAROs were issued to the Department of National Defense (DND), of which the biggest SARO of P45.6 million went to the Philippine Air Force (PAF); P24.2 million to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP); P15.5 million to the Philippine Navy; and P14.7 million to the Philippine Army.
The SAROs released to DND covered “additional funding requirements for the operations and implementation measures against the outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019,” DBM said, as President Duterte had tasked military and other uniformed personnel as COVID-19 front-liners.
The Inquirer on Saturday asked Budget Secretary Wendel E. Avisado for details on these releases, but they were not immediately available.
The P7.5-billion 2020 NDRRMP formed part of the larger annual national disaster risk reduction and management fund (NDRRMF) or the so-called calamity fund.
According to budget documents, NDRRMP can be spent on epidemics, as declared by DOH, subject to the approval of the Office of the President upon recommendation of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
It also served as an additional funding source to the QRF of implementing agencies when their balance already reached 50 percent, subject to DBM’s approval.
DBM defined QRF as a “standby-fund to be used in order that the situation and living conditions of people in communities or areas stricken by calamities, epidemics, crises, and catastrophes may be normalized as quickly as possible.”
Under this year’s P4.1-trillion national budget, the 2020 NDRRMF amounted P16 billion, as it also included P3.5 billion for the Marawi recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction program (MRRRP), as well as P5 billion for the comprehensive aid to repair earthquake damage (Cared) allocated for the Davao and SOCCSKSARGEN regions hit by strong quakes in 2019.
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