Chiz: advance IRA release for affected provinces, areas ravaged by Typhoon Ondoy

Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday called on Malacañang to accelerate the release of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of the 25 provinces and other areas placed under a state of calamity because of the devastation brought by typhoon Ondoy.

Specifically, the 39-year old senator asked the Palace to release the IRA for the last quarter of 2009 and advance the allotments for January 2010 to affected LGUs in Central Luzon, and to Rizal and some areas in Metro Manila.

“This is the least the administration can do given the dire circumstances. The affected LGUs can really use the money right now for relief and rescue operations as well as for rebuilding their respective cities and municipalities,” Escudero said in a statement.

He said for 2009, the total IRA for LGUs is P250 billion and is released on a monthly basis.

Region III or Central Luzon, one of the areas hit hard by typhoon Ondoy, has about P6 billion due in the last quarter from its P23.8 billion annual IRA. Rizal has around P1 billion due from its P4.3-billion IRA outlay this year.

The combined IRA for Metro Manila is P17.2 billion. Affected Metro Manila cities and their last quarter IRA allocations include Quezon City, P600 million; Marikina City, about P125 million; Pasig City, about P175 million; and Taguig City, about P170 million.

“The IRA is released on a monthly basis and an advance on the allotment for the affected areas for the whole year and a fraction of next year would definitely help LGUs rise from the devastation caused by Ondoy. The government should not waste any more time deliberating this, as the more time we squander, the more our people suffer,” Escudero said.

Escudero also said Malacañang can tap other sources of fund to aid affected areas of the typhoon.

He said that a P10.7-billion economic stimulus fund that has remained mostly untouched can be a source of aid money to the victims of Ondoy.

He also said some P6 billion of the P9.6-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) can also be tapped.

“No less than the Office of the President has a contingency fund of P800 million which can be diverted for use in dealing with the effects of the calamity. There is also a P1-billion General Funding Adjustment that can be used. There are many sources, and all the government needs is political will to use them,” Escudero said.#