typhoon-yolandaTACLOBAN CITY, March 14 (PNA) – Funds worth at least PHP12 billion for the rehabilitation of areas wrecked by typhoon “Yolanda” in Central Philippines remained unutilized by national government agencies, nine months before these budget allocations will expire, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) reported.

Citing reports from their main office, Bonifacio Uy, NEDA Eastern Visayas regional director, confirmed that as of last month, majority of funds under the 2016 General Appropriations Acts (GAA) for Yolanda Rehabilitation and Recovery Program (YRRP) remain untouched.

The 2016 GAA had set aside PHP18.89 billion for YRRP coursed through the National Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) for recovery activities proposed by various agencies in 2015.

“Concerned agencies should make follow ups with their respective central offices to fast track the process of releasing the money. Our worry is that the budget will not be used anymore after Dec. 31, 2017,” Uy said late Monday afternoon.

Contributing to the delay, according to NEDA, is the validation process, a major step to ensure that there would be no duplication of projects.

NEDA was tasked to monitor government-led post-Yolanda rehabilitation projects after the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery completed their job early in 2015.

Eastern Visayas, the badly-hit region by the 2013 monster typhoon, will get a big chunk of the unspent outlay for six typhoon-wrecked regions in the country, according to Uy.

“Everybody is interested to use the funds. The regional offices should work with their respective main offices since affected areas are not only Eastern Visayas,” he pointed out.

The YRRP fund was meant to build back better infrastructure, livelihood support, resettlement and social services. It is part of the PHP38.9-billion National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Fund, a special purpose fund in the 2016 budget, according to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Prior to disbursements, agencies are required to submit documents for evaluation of the Office of the Civil Defense, the NDRRMC secretariat. After the council’s approval, it will be forwarded to the Office of President, which is tasked to order the DBM to download the money.

YRRP is the government’s blueprint to help Yolanda-hit communities recover from the country’s deadliest typhoon, which killed at least 6,300 people on Nov. 8, 2013. It is the strongest storm recorded at landfall with Tacloban City considered as ground zero.(PNA) BS/SARWELL Q. MENIANO