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Barangay LGUs urged to tap 70% out of 5% calamity fund for disaster preparedness

By BONG PEDALINO, PIA Southern Leyte
January 20, 2012

MAASIN CITY, Southern Leyte  –  Under the new law that governs disaster risk reduction and management even right at the barangay level, two-thirds out of the 5% budget intended for calamity fund can be used for pro-active, disaster-related preparations.

But first, these preparedness activities must be outlined in the Annual Disaster Plan (ADP), said Jason Calva, Consultant on a special project that used the power of cellular phones to warn people in selected nine towns and one city around the province of an impending tragedy mostly caused by nature.

The project, officially called Strengthening Disaster Preparedness using SMS technology, was financed by the World Bank and fully supported by Smart Communications and the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP).

During the cable TV program “Action Center” Wednesday where he was the guest, Calva said the project which began in the last quarter of 2010 was about to end in June this year, and plans were already laid out to sustain it and roll it over to other towns not previously covered.

Calva said Smart Communications provided cell phones with one hundred pesos worth of free monthly electronic loads to fifty barangays chosen as pilot areas, and concerns were raised as to where to get funds for these loads once the project will be over.

It was at this point where Calva revealed a financial resource in the form of 70% out of the 5% calamity fund in the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) share of the barangay.

As example, he said that a barangay with an annual IRA of P1 Million has P50,000 budget representing 5% calamity fund, and 70% out of this budget was P35,000, a fund that can well provide for P100 monthly load, or P1,200 a year, as part of disaster preparedness, among other activities.

The remaining 30% or P15,000 based on the example given will be reserved for the actual use of relief operations when a disaster does happen, but a declaration of a state of calamity must be done first before this money can be used, Calva further explained.