Press Release
April 19, 2016


With the country suffering the impacts of extreme weather events, independent presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe said the government's Quick Response Fund (QRF) must already be prepositioned in disaster-prone regions.

Poe, who condemned the death of three farmers seeking rice support during a protest in Kidapawan City, said the government must not wait for people to beg before aid is given.

"Matagal na naming sinasabi 'yung epekto ng El Niño na marami talagang magugutom. Iyon talaga ang problema lalo na sa agrikultura," she said during one of her campaign sorties following the April 1 incident in North Cotabato.

To facilitate the release of government aid during calamities such as the prevailing El Niño, the senator proposed that the QRF be held by the regional offices, instead of the central offices of national agencies.

QRF pertains to the "built-in budgetary allocations that represent pre-disaster or standby funds for agencies in order to immediately assist areas stricken by catastrophes and crises." Unlike the Calamity Fund, the QRF may be released without the recommendation of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council or the approval of the Office of the President.

"We are hit by super typhoons and dry spells every year. By this time, we already know which areas are most vulnerable. It only makes sense to already preposition the Quick Response Fund in concerned regional offices. A slow response time is unacceptable with a QRF," Poe said.

Five national agencies have built-in QRFs in their budgets: Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of National Defense (DND), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Agriculture (DA).

According to the Senate Finance Committee, the DA still has a P508.5-million balance in its 2015 and 2016 QRF. This, even as the country's farmers lost thousands of hectares' worth of harvest due to the El Niño.

To access the QRF, a disaster-affected community must assess damages and seek assistance from the local government unit (LGU). The LGU then submits a request to the national implementing agency's region office, which will forward the request to the central office, which will release the QRF.

"Malaki ang responsibilidad ng gobyerno na i-organisa ang sarili para naman matugunan ang pangangailangan ng mga nasalanta sa lalong madaling panahon. Kinakailangan ay mabilis kumilos, mapagkakatiwalaan, tapat at may tunay na malasakit" Poe said in an earlier visit to Capiz, one of the areas hardest hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.

Alongside conducting a policy review of intervention measures in the past years, the next administration should ensure that relief is given immediately post-calamities, she said.

"Food and building materials should be stored in regional depots so that these can be quickly sent to victims and we won't have to airlift food all the way from Manila during emergencies," the senator said.

According to the Natural Hazards Risk Atlas done by Verisk Maplecroft, a London-based company specializing in risk assessment, the Philippines has 21 of the 100 cities with the greatest exposure to natural hazards.

The global Top 10 list of cities most exposed to natural hazards include Tuguegarao (2nd), Lucena (3rd), Manila (4th), San Fernando (5th) and Cabantuan (6th).

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