Aquino to visit Ruby-hit areas, eyes cash subsidy for victims
MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III confirmed on Friday, December 12, that he will soon visit some areas that were affected by Typhoon Ruby (international name: Hagupit).
Aquino also said that he is mulling over proposals to give typhoon victims a cash subsidy for housing assistance.
The President made the statement in an interview with Philippine media in Busan, South Korea, where he attended the 25th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Commemorative Summit.
Aquino said that the schedule and the itinerary of his visit will be announced as soon as it is finalized by his staff.
The President also said that the proposed cash subsidy will amount to between P10,000 to P30,000, depending on the extent of the damage on the victims' homes.
Responding to questions, Aquino said that there are still funds that can be tapped for the purpose.
He explained that P7.3 billion in disaster funds for 2014 is still available, coming from the balance of the 2014 national disaster risk reduction and management (NDRRM) fund amounting to P2.61 billion, and the balance of the quick response funds (QRF) amounting to P4.69 billion.
In the 2015 national budget, the government asked for a P2-billion contingent fund, P13-billion NDRRM fund, and an estimated P6.4 billion QRF.
"[Budget Secretary Florencio Abad] has not warned me that there is a shortage of funds, so the assumption is...that we have adequate funds, and that there are new funds going to be made available as soon as the 2015 [budget] is signed into law," Aquino said.
He added, "So, I think, we don’t have any fears regarding funding for assistance for Ruby."
Typhoon Ruby killed 18 people and affected over 800,000 people in 9 regions, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
Meanwhile, the Department of Education said in a press statement on Saturday, December 13, that based on partial reports, only 101 of the 9,103 schools in Ruby-affected areas sustained partial or total damage.
The DepEd said the repair and rehabilitation of theschools can be covered by the existing budget and will not require supplemental allocations.
The DepEd also said that measures are in place to guarantee continued delivery of basic education in affected areas.
Aquino returned to Manila on Friday night, and reported the gains of his overnight trip, among them a $500-million concessional loan from South Korea for Philippine development projects. – Rappler.com