Congress asked to re-channel P 339 billion budget for debt servicing to Yolanda rehab

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Congress asked to re-channel P 339 billion budget for debt servicing to Yolanda rehab

Manila, Philippines- The national fisherfolk federation Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya njg Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Friday urged  House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. to re-channel the budget for debt serving for 2014 to rehabilitation programs that would uplift the sorry situation of victims of super typhoon Yolanda.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France argued that instead of asking P 80 billion loan from foreign multilateral agencies, the national government should press foreign and local creditors to at least grant the country a reprieve or an indefinite moratorium from paying domestic and foreign loans so it could focus in rebuilding the lives of the people devastated by the super typhoon.

“Political will is the key solution here. The government does not have to borrow money from foreign sources, all it has to do is to stop honoring these fraudulent debts or another option is indefinitely suspend the payment of foreign and domestic debt and focus the local resources for rehabilitation of Eastern Samar, Leyte and 34 more provinces.

Either way will do something great for the people and for the complete rehabilitation of Yolanda stricken communities. But political will is not present with the current presidency and Mr. Aquino and his budget official are lameduck and insensitive people,” noted France.

The Pamalakaya leader stressed: “The solution is as easy as ABC as to where to get the money to fund the rehabilitation and reconstruction programs for Yolanda victims. The government should recall debt payment of graft ridden loans and use the taxpayers’ money wisely and in accordance with the people’s collective interest and national sentiment.

This government is not doing its’ assignment for public interest, it only wants commissions, pork barrel and political grandstanding all rolled into one shameless agenda.”

Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Florencio Abad Jr yesterday announced that the government will borrow P 80 billion from multilateral agencies to complete the P 130 billion rehabilitation and reconstruction funds for areas hit by super typhoon Yolanda.

The budget chief said P 14.5 billion will be sourced from supplemental budget asked by President Aquino, P 20 billion from the 2014 national budget and P 30 billion will be sourced from the lawmakers unused pork barrel from this year’s budget.

Earlier, Pamalakaya said more than 100,000 fishermen in Yolanda affected areas need new fishing boats and gears.  The group asserted that about 10 percent of the 1.3 million small-scale fishermen need boats, fish nets and other forms of production subsidies from the government.

The group had proposed free distribution of fishing boats to affected small-scale fishermen in Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern Negros, Guimaras, Northern Iloilo, Aklan, Capiz, Antique, Northern Cebu, Masbate, Palawan and Mindoro provinces.

“1,300 fishing boats? That is is only good for one fishing barangay in Tacloban City. We are talking here of the entire of Eastern Visayas region and 34 more provinces devastated by typhoon Yolanda and all this government can offer is 1,300 fishing boats and 4,000 fishing nets.

Please don’t give us this kind of highly minimal and grossly trivial response. We are dealing with a national disaster that needs comprehensive solution,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

The militant group said the government should allot at least P 30-billion for the rehabilitation of fishing communities, fifty percent or P 15 billion should be allocated directly for production subsidy like procurement and repair of boats, purchase of fish nets and other gears which will be distributed for free to Yolanda devastated areas.

Pamalakaya said the 100,000 fishing boats should be distributed for free and would cover the provinces of Leyte, Samar, Northern Cebu, Northern Iloilo, Aklan, Capiz, Antique,  Guimaras, Northern Negros, Palawan, Masbate, Mindoro Oriental and Mindoro Occidental.

The group maintained that more than half of the casualties in Yolanda ravaged provinces in the Visayas, Palawan and Mindoro provinces are small fishermen. The militant group said an independent body should be set up to monitor the allocation and distribution of free fishing boats and gears to affected fishermen.

The body shall be composed of fisherfolk organizations and other concerned groups that will be sanctioned or assisted by DA and the local government units.

The group said the 1,300 fishing boats and the P 40 million economic assistance which the agriculture department would provide as assistance are insufficient and would only cover a fishing municipality in Leyte or in Tacloban City. Pamalakaya said production subsidy such as free boats powered by 10 horse power and fish nets are necessary at this time to enable fisherfolk to get back to work, gather fish and feed millions of Filipino people. ##

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