Rama seeks additional budget for typhoon recovery
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said that the city will be needing more funds in order to recover from Typhoon Odette.
The mayor said that he will be submitting a proposal for a supplemental budget in the coming days to City Council because the current P1 billion budget is simply not enough.
Rama has already sought a P5 billion aid from President Rodrigo Duterte, but the city is yet to receive a response to this request. Meanwhile, the city must find ways to fund the recovery.
“We have looked back. Unless the national government brings in billions, the P1.7 billion estimated damage, looking at it, the current budget is not enough when you talk about a comprehensive recovery plan,” he said.
The city has allotted P1 billion for typhoon response, but all of these have been allocated in financial aid to affected households, rice aid, and agricultural aid for farmers.
This is why the mayor has asked the local finance committee to find the funds for the supplemental budget because he is determined that all structure owners affected by Typhoon Odette should receive P5,000 per structure.
Even if the national government will be able to provide the P5 billion financial assistance requested by Cebu City, this won’t likely be enough for a paradigm shift in disaster preparedness and resilience.
“If another typhoon will come, I don’t want to want to look at the water again as a problem. I would be begging on bended knees to the President, give us the assistance. So we can pursue with clarity and certainty, the so-called dam,” said Rama.
The mayor said that if the city wishes to fully recover from Odette, changes have to be made in utilities, power, and water supply to make these sustainable against any other environmental threat.
In his recent presentation to the City Council, Rama said that utilities must be installed underground and the city needs its own powerplant and a waste-to-energy facility as long-term plans for disaster resilience.
Yet for now, the focus would be direct aid to the affected residents, thus, the supplemental budget. The mayor cannot yet give an exact amount for this budget, but he plans to hand in the proposal to the council soon.
The city has already distributed rice aid to the majority of the barangays both urban and mountain areas, but the P5,000 financial assistance has yet to catch up.
The release of the P5,000 financial assistance has been hampered by the need for a verified list from the barangays and the request for the budget from the City Treasurer’s Office.
At least 510,000 families are expected to have received or to receive their rice aid coursed through the barangays. /rcg
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