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Rehab Fund May Not Be Realized – Escudero

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SAN JOSE, Antique – Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero cast doubts if the promised Rehabilitation fund for the island of Panay will be realized.

Escudero said that the rehab fund intended for the rehabilitation of provinces in Panay badly hit by Typhoon Frank is being delayed. With so many conditions being imposed it may not be realized, he opined.

Escudero was in Antique yesterday meeting with Vice Governor Rhodora Cadiao and San Jose Mayor Rony Molina.

Called Bangon Panay Rehabilitation Fund will be used in rehabilitation of Panay Island and the rest of provinces in Western Visayas damaged by typhoon Frank last June 21-22, 2008. It will be headed by Justice Secretary Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. of the Panay Island Rehabilitation and Restoration Task Force.

However, the initially reported at P15 billion funds was downgraded to some P9.8 billion as announced Friday by Task Force Panay executive director Raul Banias, also the Presidential Assistant for Western Visayas. Escudero said that the fund is even rumored to drop to P8.6 billion in his visit in Aklan.

Escudero slams the preconditions being set by Malacanang for the release of the rehab funds. He said that pronouncements being made by the palace are inconsistent. Before they tell us that they will derived the fund on 2009 budget, but it is not there.

“Now they said they will pass bill for it. But now they said that they will now pass another tax law to look for funds,” Escudero said.

House Speaker Norberto Nograles earlier disclosed that they will pass a bill to allocate funds for the rehabiliatation.

“Dugtong-dugtong na ang kwento at napakalayo na ang narating. Pero sa totoo lang pwede ba maskin P1 billion na lang basta totoo amin na?,” Escudero said.

He adds that the problem is there so much amount of money being allocated with so many conditions being imposed which is now the reason main it cannot be implemented.

He also said that he is not in favor of the new tax measure being proposed by
administration officials. Antique Lone District Rep. Exequiel Javier earlier proposed new Revenue Bill will be one of the possible sources.

“As long as I am the chairman of Ways and Means of the Senate, I will not allow new tax measure to be imposed in the already impoverished Filipinos. Since tax measures such as VAT has been proven to have not been beneficial to the poor,” Escudero said.

Although he clarified that he is not against the measure on rehab fund or confirms that it will not happen, Escudero hopes that the administration should this time fulfill its promise since it has made pronouncements in the past that has not been realized.

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