‘Use calamity fund to control ASF, Covid-19’
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The local government units (LGUs) that are faced with calamities such as the African swine fever (ASF) and the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) can use their calamity fund or their savings from the fund, an official of the Commission on Audit (COA) said on Wednesday.
During the Benguet provincial, Baguio City and Cordillera disaster risk reduction management council (DRRMC) meeting, Ignacio Panit Jasmin Jr., COA State Auditor IV in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), told the LGUs that the 30 percent quick response fund coming from their annual calamity fund can be used to address the ASF and the Covid-19 threats.
He said every LGU has a 5-percent calamity fund computed from the annual budget.
The amount is divided into 30 percent quick response fund (QRT) in a lump sum and the 70 percent investment allocation for mitigation, prevention, and preparedness programs.
He said 70 percent is allotted for specific programs and projects while 30 percent can be used for urgent expenditures.
“It is a gray area. Your auditors are humans too, they can understand situations, so go to them,” he said, referring to the nature of the emergencies faced by LGUs.
Jasmin said aside from the current QRT budget, the calamity trust fund which is saved from the last four years can be used to provide livelihood aid for those affected by the infestation in swine.
It could also be used to buy supplies like hand sanitizers or masks to prevent the possible spread of the Covid-19, Jasmin said.
COA Circular 2012-002, issued on Sept. 12, 2012, states that the local DRRM fund can be used for pre-disaster preparedness programs; for post-disaster activities; payment of insurance premiums on property if indemnity includes damages or loss due to fire, earthquake, storm of other casualties and on personnel accident insurance of accredited community disaster volunteers; and for relief and recovery programs in communities or areas stricken by disasters, calamities, epidemics or complex emergencies.
Benguet Gov. Melchor Diclas said they have used their trust fund from calamity fund savings to help those affected by the ASF.
A total of 37 hog raisers in Benguet province suffered losses due to culling and de-population or killing of pigs found within the one-kilometer radius from ground zero of an ASF case.
A total of 532 pigs were killed in Benguet in Tuba, Itogon and La Trinidad towns after a pig was found positive of the ASF disease of hogs.
“Aside from financial assistance may ibibigay na tayo for livelihood, kagaya ng chicks atsaka mga goat, at may carabao (Aside from financial assistance, we will be giving for livelihood, like chicks, goats, and carabao),” Diclas told Philippine News Agency.
“‘Yung quick response fund na Hindi nagamit sa buong taon magiging trust fund, so yun na yung gagamitin natin pag may dumating na kalamidad para hindi na natin kailangang mag-declare ng state of calamity (the quick response fund will become a trust fund if unused during the year, so we will be using that so that we do not need to declare a state of calamity),” Diclas said.
Dr. Meriam Tiongan, the Benguet provincial veterinarian, said there were three laboratory-confirmed ASF cases, which prompted them to de-populate cull, applying the “1-7-10 protocol.”
Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) Cordillera regional director Albert Mogol said the region’s proactive stance in battling emerging and re-emerging illnesses for animals and humans makes the region one step ahead of emergencies.
He said local governments aided by the Department of Health and the joint task force created for emerging and re-emerging diseases in 2019 allowed the region to have a faster response and coordination of stakeholders in times of emergency.
“Yun po ang kagandahan pagka proactive, hindi yung inaantay natin na may mangyari bago tayo mag-react (That is the beauty of being proactive and not waiting for something bad to happen before making a move),” Mogol said.
“The postponement of the Panagbenga 2020 is an example that led to positive results because CAR remains Covid-19 free,” he said. **By Liza Agoot with reports from Corwin Lucan Golonan and Zedrick John Macario, OJT/PNA