By Filane Mikee Cervantes

SCORCHING SUN. Wilted vegetation in this farm in Cuenca, Batangas gives a glimpse of the effects of El Niño on food production taken in March 2024. The Department of Budget and Management on Friday (April 26) said the government can tap the remaining PHP15.507 billion under the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund for 2024 to mitigate the effects of the climate phenomenon. (PNA photo by Pot Chavez)

MANILA – The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on Friday said the government could tap the remaining PHP15.507 billion under the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (NDRRMF) for 2024 to mitigate the effects of the El Niño phenomenon.

In a statement, DBM Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said the PHP15.5-billion balance in the NDRRMF is part of the total PHP20.5 billion allocated for disaster risk reduction and management this year.

“We are prepared to support all operations that seek to cushion the negative impacts of the dry spell affecting various provinces in the country. Our data shows that as of April 24 this year, the disaster relief fund stands at over PHP15 billion,” she said.

The current NDRRMF balance also includes PHP1 billion allocated for the parametric insurance coverage of government facilities against natural calamities, she noted.

Pangandaman said there are also built-in budgetary allocations for various government agencies known as quick response funds (QRFs) totaling PHP7.825 billion.

For the respective QRF allocations of agencies this year, a total of PHP1 billion has been allocated to the Department of Agriculture, PHP3 billion for the Department of Education, PHP500 million for the Department of Health, PHP50 million for the Bureau of Fire Protection, PHP50 million for the Philippine National Police, PHP500 million for the Office of Civil Defense, PHP1 billion for the Department of Public Works and Highways, PHP1.75 billion for the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and PHP75 million for the Philippine Coast Guard.

“Aside from that, several identified agencies may mobilize their QRF allocated in their respective budgets when necessary, in accordance with the respective special provisions for QRF. Malaking tulong po ‘yan sa mga apektadong komunidad sa bansa (It would be a huge help for the affected communities in the country),” she said.

According to the DBM, the NDRRMF shall be used for aid, relief, and rehabilitation services to communities/areas; as well as, repair, rehabilitation, and reconstruction works in connection with the occurrence of natural or human-induced calamities in the current or two preceding years, subject to the approval of the President.

The fund also serves as an additional funding source for agencies whose budgets include provisions for QRF when the balance thereof has reached 50 percent, subject to the approval of the DBM.

Aside from the disaster relief fund, Pangandaman also highlighted that a total of PHP4.5 billion has been allotted for the Crop Insurance Program of the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation this year to cover the full cost of crop insurance premiums of over 2.292 million targeted farmers.

Task Force El Niño spokesperson and Presidential Communications Office Assistant Secretary Joey Villarama earlier reported that a total of 103 cities and municipalities have declared a state of calamity due to the effects of El Niño.

The effects of the El Niño phenomenon are expected to linger until June. (PNA)