Law requires online disclosure of calamity fund spending: Recto

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Sen. Ralph Recto has reminded national agencies in receipt of hundreds of millions of pesos in Calamity Fund and Quick Response Fund (QRF) to comply with a provision of a law requiring them to post in their official websites projects financed by the two funds.

ralph recto

Recto said the General Appropriations Act (GAA) for 2016, or Republic Act 10717, specifically mandates agencies that have received Calamity Fund and QRF money to upload in their respective websites quarterly reports on the activities funded by the disbursements.

And if the projects are infrastructure in nature, agencies must post in their websites “the project title, location and detailed description, approved budget, and detailed estimates of the bid as awarded,” Recto said.

This is pursuant to a separate transparency provision in RA 10717, Recto explained.

“These are but two of the many provisions in the national budget related to the publication, disclosure and reporting of appropriations received and spent,” Recto said.

These provisions, he stressed, must be observed in the Calamity Fund and QRF disbursements meant to mitigate the effects of El Nino and extend aid to farmers who suffer from the same.

“Kung meron nang na-release na pondo, at ang pondong ito ay nagamit na, mabuti yata na ang mga ahensyang nakatanggap ay i-post sa kanilang website ang mga detalye para sa kabatiran ng publiko,” Recto said.

Such disclosure, Recto said, would belie allegations that funds have not been released to aid El Ni?o-hit places and populace.

“Kung may pondong nagamit na, e di i-upload kaagad ang mga detalye, tulad ng saan at kailan, para ma-share, at ma-like ng mga followers,” he said.

“It should be a province-by-province listing. Halimbawa sa North Cotabato, magkano na ba ang tulong na naibigay ng national government?” Recto said.

A scan made by Recto’s technical staff however, showed that none of the national government agencies to which QRF has been allocated has made any online disclosure.

“Hopefully, they will comply with the law soon,” he said, as he urged the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), “the foremost exponent of transparency and author of these provisions,” to prod the agencies to comply with the said provisions of the GAA.

Long before the Kidapawan tragedy happened, Recto had been prodding Malaca?ang to release part of the P39 billion of this year’s Calamity Fund, officially called the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund, “for food assistance, cash-for-work projects, emergency employment” for farms hit by El Ni?o.

“There is a calamity. The damage is obvious. Many local governments have placed their areas under an official state of calamity. These are enough to trigger the release of funds,” Recto said.

“Ang tanong: Magkano na ang naibigay para sa mga lugar na tinamaan ng El Ni?o? Para malaman natin kung may batayan ang mga hinaing ng mga magsasaka,” the senator asked.

In addition, Recto said the P6.7 billion Quick Response Fund (QRF) has been distributed among 12 agencies, with P1.32 billion given to DWSD, and P500 million each to DA and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).

Other QRF recipients are DepEd (P1 billion); DOH (P510 million); DPWH (P1.3 billion); DOTC, including Philippine Coast Guard (P200 million); PNP (P75 million); BFP (P75 million); DND (P200 million); Office of Civil Defense (P530 million).

“As its name denotes, it’s for quick release. An emergency fund that is already prepositioned with the agencies for rapid use. Again, pursuant to law, the affected agencies must disclose how much has been spent,” he said.

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