By Melissa Luz T. Lopez
THE WORLD BANK has released a $496.25-million aid package for the Philippines to help fund reconstruction and recovery in areas hit by typhoon Ompong (international name: Mangkhut).
In a statement, the bank said the package is part of a contingent credit line for natural disasters.
A week ago, President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed Proclamation No. 593 declaring a state of calamity in Regions I, II, III, and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) due to “widespread destruction, substantial damage and deaths” caused by the heavy rains and winds as the storm traversed the northern Philippines in mid-September.
Cabinet officials belonging to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) have since endorsed the declaration.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III has said that the declaration will allow the Philippines to tap special credit line from the World Bank for relief and recovery measures.
Apart from accessing the loan facility, Mr. Duterte’s proclamation also allows local government units to impose price caps on basic goods, authorize extraordinary funding for repairs and upgrades of roads and facilities, and pursue negotiated procurement in affected regions.
“The funds accessed from the contingent line of credit — called the Second Disaster Risk Management Development Policy Loan with a Catastrophe-Deferred Drawdown Option (Cat-DDO 2) — will give the Philippine Government flexibility to help families and communities recover, reconstruct vital infrastructure (such as roads, bridges, schools and hospitals), and restore basic social services,” the World Bank said in a statement.
The Cat-DDO 2 line has been active since December 2015, with the goal of providing “immediate liquidity” to help a borrower recover from a natural disaster. It also comes with technical assistance from the lender to assist in disaster risk management.
A country can tap the credit facility within three years, renewable for a total of 15 years. Amounts repaid by the government can then be tapped for subsequent drawdowns, the World Bank added.
Cat-DDO 2 will be available until Sept. 30, 2021.
Typhoon Ompong affected nearly three million people, left 68 dead, 138 injured and two missing, according to NDRRMC’s Oct. 1 situation report.
The heavy rains also caused P26.77 billion worth of damage to agriculture and P6.923 billion to infrastructure.
In a related development, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said the government is “providing emergency employment” for displaced workers in Ompong-hit areas.
In a statement, DBM said P44 million has been allocated this year for affected residents via the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged (TUPAD) program of the Labor department.
Some 1,160 workers in Batanes, 5,798 in Isabela, 4,348 in Cagayan, 300 in Nueva Vizcaya, 580 in Quirino and 580 in Tuguegarao City will be employed under TUPAD, with employment arrangements ranging from 10 to 30 days.
Budget for the TUPAD program will be doubled to P3.34 billion in 2019 for 289,602 beneficiaries, following a P1.62 billion allocation this year.