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Economic managers assure Guimaras oil spill fund won’t fall on pols’ hands

March 7, 2007

By Maricar M. Calubiran
The News Today
March, 7, 2007

ONE of the economic managers of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assured that the oil spill fund for the island province of Guimaras will not be used for election purposes just like the fertilizer fund. Out of the P800 million budget for the rehabilitation of the island province of Guimaras, the government has already released P199 million since last year.

Department of Finance Secretary Gary B. Teves allayed the fears of the people on the use of the oil spill funds for election purposes. He said everyone has the responsibility to watch over the funds purposely released for the rehabilitation of Guimaras.

Recently, former Agriculture Secretary Joc-Joc Bolante, who is from Capiz, was put in hot water over the alleged use of fertilizer funds for the administration’s political campaign.

Teves urged the people to give them the signal whenever there is an offing scam related to the oil spill fund. He assured that they will take action on whatever information they will receive on how the budget is spent. The fund should be spent in projects.

While, Department of Budget and Management Secretary Rolando Andaya said they recently released P81 million. Of the P81 million, P50 million went to the Department of Agriculture, P26 million for the Department of Science and Technology and another P5 million for the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The P50 million will be used for livelihood projects of the affected residents. The project includes raising of pigs and chickens. The P26 million will be used to purchase monitoring equipment.

When asked on why the Department of Foreign Affairs was included in the budget, Andaya explained that the budget is allocated to the Office of Maritime Affairs. It is a new office created by the government. They are also set to release another P15 million for the Department of Health.

Andaya said they are not in a hurry to release any fund without any purpose. The fund should be spent only in rehabilitation purposes and not for anything else. There are proposals from different national government agencies that were disapproved because of its non-relevance at this time.

He stressed out that the fund should not be spent for projects such as road construction which is not in any way related to the rehabilitation of the island as an aftermath of the August 11, 2006 oil spill. The project proponent should give exact and convincing reasons why they should be given funds.

One of those projects that were disapproved by the government is the “food for work” of the Department of Social Welfare and Development Office. There is no need for the government to give allocation to the “food for work” program since the affected residents already returned to their normal lives.

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