(Photo courtesy of Philippine Coast Guard-Negros Occidental)

MANILA – A leader of the House of Representatives on Tuesday urged the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte the declaration of a state of calamity for several regions in the aftermath of Typhoon Odette which ravaged parts of Visayas and Mindanao.

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Salceda said the declaration will then activate measures such as price controls, reprogramming of funds for the repair of infrastructure, and the granting of no-interest loans by the government financial institutions.

Salceda added that the declaration would activate an automatic price freeze of basic necessities for areas in a state of calamity under Republic Act 7581, or the Price Act.

He cited RA 10121, which provides that the NDRRMC should recommend a declaration of state of calamity by the President.

He also noted that there are funds that the government can immediately mobilize to support hard-hit areas.

“The government can mobilize its quick response funds, created under RA 10121, the NDRRM Funds, and the President’s Contingent Fund. Note that both the 2020 and the 2021 budgets for these funds are still valid. You have around PHP6.5 billion in available fund balances from the NDRRM Fund and the President’s contingent funds, based on the latest budget reports,” Salceda said.

He said there is also the Presidential Social Fund, which is off-budget, and which the President can also immediately mobilize. The fund is sourced from Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, which remitted some PHP2 billion this year.

“So there is definitely money to spare for these areas... The National Government can work with Congress to reprogram some funds from agencies with large outstanding balances,” Salceda said. (PNA)