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Prepositioning of relief and allied services urgently needed

12:02 AM May 28, 2016

This refers to the article titled “COA: P74M was for calamity victims” by  Dona Z. Pazzibugan (News, 5/16/16).

We would like to clarify that the Department of National Defense is implementing the provisions of the General Appropriations Act on the use of the Quick Response Fund (QRF). With the department’s commitment to mitigate the effects of calamities, activities and projects have been undertaken, using the QRF, to ensure that the situation in affected communities and areas can be normalized as quickly as possible.

The constructed facilities mentioned in the article have allowed us to deploy assets before, during and after disasters for HADR (humanitarian assistance and disaster response) operations. For the purpose of prepositioning troops or emergency response units that are organized, equipped and trained, the department decided to conduct HADR preparations, the expenses for which were charged to the QRF.

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We have seen the grave need for such preparations during the “Ondoy” and “Habagat” operations, where soldiers, seamen and airmen used boots to wade through flooded areas, instead of more appropriate footwear. To enable them to respond more effectively and efficiently, the department has seen fit to provide and equip our AFP disaster units with the proper, necessary gear and resources.

Moreover, AFP camps and facilities were, unfortunately, also damaged by disasters like the weather disturbances “Santi,” “Glenda” and “Yolanda.” Although they themselves—and for many of them, also their families—could be said to be among the victims of these calamities, they had to heed the call of duty and perform HADR missions. In some cases, they were prevented from doing so due to downed communication lines to the Office of Civil Defense and other civilian rescue teams.

The wisdom of these preparatory measures was affirmed by President Aquino in his veto message regarding the “Special Provision” of the QRF for 2014, saying that the QRF included in the budget of frontline agencies in times of calamities “is more effective when utilized as well for the prepositioning of goods, emergency response units, and other allied support items.”

—ARSENIO R. ANDOLONG, MNSA, chief, public affairs service, Department of National Defense

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TAGS: Department of National Defense, general appropriations act, habagat, Ondoy, QRF, Quick Response Fund, Yolanda
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