The big loophole in the 5% Calamity Fund guidelines

What was supposed to be a routine special meeting of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) last week turned up something out of the ordinary.

Provincial Health Officer II Dr. Hazel Palmes had requested Acting Governor and    Pursuant to President Rodrigo Duterte’s marching order to end the scourge of illegal drugs in the country, PDRRMC Chair Shirley Abundo to call the meeting primarily to consider the request for funding of the PHO’s plan to purchase medical equipment and supplies as part of the CoVid-19 preparedness plan.

While the amount needed was merely a fraction of the 5% Calamity Fund for 2020, the council decided to utilize the continuing appropriation or savings. This needed the presence of Provincial Accountant Sonia Villaluna to inform the council of the available balance from previous years.

Based on the accountant’s data, there was a balance of P50,355,790 in the LDRRM Fund as of September 2019 but there was no available information if there were unpaid obligations charged to the fund.

Despite the claim of PDRRM Officer Jerry Beo that he had already turned over the required list to the accounting office, Ms. Villaluna said she didn’t have any idea about the unpaid projects and asked for the turnover of all PDRRMC resolutions approving funding for projects.

Beo should have kept track of approved projects as well as the LDRRM Fund balance since they know which projects charged to the fund have been approved and/or implemented, the accountant insisted.

The resulting exchange of views soon turned up the fact that some members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan charged certain projects to the Calamity Fund without the knowledge of the PDRRMO or the council itself.

A check of the proposed projects for CY 2020 showed a supposed Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) project, the purchase of P1 million worth of fruit bearing trees which the capitol can request for free from through the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist.

There was likewise an allocation of P5 million for the purchase of lots for evacuation centers and resettlement sites despite the fact that the PDRRMO has yet to identify the proposed sites.

The list also included P5 million for the repair and installation of typhoon guards for the convention center, purchase of a 250KVA genset for EBMC for P2.5 million, repair of PEO motorpool for P3 million, repair of PDRRN Farm Building in Panganiban for P2 million and repair of Osmena-Cabuyoan provincial road for P1 million, with the latter backed by an SP resolution.

While proponents can always argue that the proposed expenditure is calamity-related, there is merit in the disclosure regarding non-calamity projects getting funds from the 5% Calamity Fund, the utilization of which is governed by stringent guidelines.

Perhaps, the National DRRM Council should consider amending the guidelines further so as to reduce the loophole provided by the NDRRMC-DBM-DILG Joint Memorandum Circular 2013-1: “other programs or projects of similar nature and considered necessary.”


The Tribune marks its 39th year in community journalism

This issue marks the Catanduanes Tribune’s 39th anniversary as a community newspaper in the island province and certainly its most credible purveyor of news and opinion.

For nearly two decades now, it has maintained its weekly run of 1,500 copies, with 90 percent of it sold to loyal readers in the province’s 11 municipalities. The Catandunganon’s keen interest in reading the local news is something to be proud of, especially when one considers the fact that in the mainland, most if not all of the local tabloids are given away to the public.

From the time this paper was founded by the late Fredeswindo T. Gianan Sr. in 1967 until its sudden demise in 1972 upon the declaration of Martial Law until its resurrection in 1981, the Tribune has not ceased bring to the public’s attention the news that mattered.

In 2000, it began reaching out to the thousands of Catandunganons who have found their way to various homes across the globe, with the launching of its website,, thanks to web administrator Richard Revelar in faraway Canada.

This year, the old website has been replaced by a new one,, now managed by the publisher’s son who has acquired a degree in journalism unlike his forebears. And it has announced its presence on social media, something which still needs some tinkering as it goes along.

As we express our gratitude to the writers, including a few who have gone to the Great Beyond, the Tribune management wishes to thank the reading public and its advertisers without whom this paper would not have reached this milestone.

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