The House of Representatives has adopted a resolution calling for the establishment of the Disaster Relief Fund of the chamber to ensure immediate financial support for emergency relief operations in disaster-stricken areas.
House Resolution 1484, principally authored by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez (1st District, Davao del Norte), was adopted as HR 76 which shall establish the “Disaster Relief Fund of the House of Representatives” as an identifiable, reliable and readily-available source of funds for disaster relief operations.
This will provide the House a structured and consistent process of raising funds and giving immediate financial assistance to disaster-stricken areas.
The Philippines, as cited in the resolution, is prone to high incidence of natural calamities such as typhoons, floods, storm surges, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, landslides and droughts given the country’s geographical location and physical environment.
Aside from natural calamities, the country also experiences man-made disasters such as urban or structural fires, epidemic or disease outbreak, oil spillage, terrorist attacks, and other emergencies, including those dealing with internally displaced persons as a result of armed conflicts.
The Speaker said poverty and the impact of climate change further exacerbate the vulnerability of many Filipinos to the effects of natural calamities and man-made disasters particularly the elderly, persons with disabilities, women and children.
“The severity of natural calamities in the country has dramatically increased in the past several years and the incidence of these disasters, whether natural or human-induced, will always be a challenge that many House Members will have to cope within their respective constituencies during their incumbency,” the Speaker said.
The resolution provides that the House Disaster Relief Fund shall be initially funded by the voluntary contributions from the House members through a one-time deduction of at least P10,000 from their monthly salary.
Any House Member may authorize the Accounting Service to deduct bigger amounts from their monthly salary as contribution to the Disaster Relief Fund or signify their intention to be excluded in the salary deduction scheme to raise funds for the Disaster Relief Fund.
Upon adoption of a resolution providing for financial assistance to any part of the country identified by the National Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) as an area most affected by a disaster or calamity, the Speaker shall authorize the disbursement of money in favor of a Local Government Unit (LGU) or a reputable Non-Government Organization (NGO) or Civil Society Organization (CSO) vetted by the City or Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer of any city or municipality affected by the disaster, as payee or beneficiary of the proceeds of the Disaster Relief Fund.
In case the Congress is not in session, the Speaker, with the concurrence of the House Minority and Majority Leader, is authorized to allocate and release financial assistance sourced from the Disaster Relief Fund in response to a recognized disaster affecting a specific area.
The Speaker shall provide a report to the House Members detailing the available funds and disbursements from the Disaster relief Fund not later than 60 days after every disbursement.
The Speaker shall, in consultation with the Chairperson of the Committee on Accounts, issue guidelines for the effective implementation of the adopted resolution, including the identification of reputable national organizations involved in disaster relief efforts which may be engaged to manage the Disaster Relief Fund.
Other authors of the resolution are Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas (1st District, Ilocos Norte), committee on accounts chairperson Rep. Elenita Milagros Ermita-Buhain (1st District, Batangas) and committee on national defense and security chairman Rep. Amado Espino, Jr. (5th District, Pangasinan).