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THE SOUTHERN BEAT By Rolly Espina

February 22, 2007

The Philippine Star 02/22/2007

(An excerpt)

Where’s the P800-M Guimaras rehab fund?

Usually, the national government announces with flair the allocation of big amounts of assistance for rehabilitation work in case of a disaster.

Well, that is something which has miffed Guimaras Gov. JC Rahman Nava. Yesterday, Nava said the rehabilitation plan is in place but its implementation remains a big question mark.

The reason: the P800 million for the Guimaras rehabilitation fund has yet to be released. It is included in the 2007 supplemental budget of the national government.

Nava was scheduled to leave yesterday for Manila to finalize with the National Disaster Coordinating Council the internal rules and regulations for the rehabilitation program. The budget and finance departments will also send their official representatives to the meet.

Health Undersecretary Ethelyn Nieto also reportedly lamented the delay in the release of the funds, especially the P22 million intended for the medical surveillance systems to monitor the long-term effects of bunker oil on the health of affected Guimaras residents.

Nieto disclosed that P12 million will be for disease surveillance which includes the detection and response to outbreaks and the monitoring and evaluation of the operation, among others.

Gov. Nava disclosed that the local government was supposed to get P210 million; Department of Environment and Natural Resources, P130 million; DSWD, P250 million; and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, P100 million. The remaining amount will be distributed to the University of the Philippines, the health department, and the Department of Science and Technology.

What all this amounts to is simple – between the announcement and the implementation lies a major gap. And too often, this becomes too wide that people tend to lose their confidence in the government’s promises.

So, I can only hope that Gov. Nava does not get it on the neck for howling for his P800 million now instead of waiting for those holding the fund to release it at their convenience.

(More at Phil. Star.)

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