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MANILA, Philippines -- The partylist group Kabataan on Monday criticized President Benigno Aquino III for reportedly partying as thousands suffer from the brunt of typhoon Sendong.
At the same time, Representative Raymond Palatino said the President's veto in the 2011 budget of the P5 billion for disaster preparation has weakened the government's capacity to respond to natural disasters.
Late Saturday, Palatino said that television host and actress Valerie Concepcion tweeted about performing in a party in Malacanang. She said Aquino laughed as her jokes and enjoyed her performance.
“Done w/ work.. Tnx for having me.. :) It was nice to see Pres. P-Noy laughing at my jokes & enjoying my performance..ü #Malacañang #PSGNight,” according to Concepcion's tweet.
The twitter post, which quickly spread across various social networking sites, generated criticism against Aquino, who was deemed insensitive for partying as thousands of Filipinos in Mindanao struggle to survive and recover from the tragedy brought about by typhoon Sendong, Palatino said.
“President Aquino, being the head of the state, should have made it his priority to be hands-on in alleviating the situation in Mindanao instead of attending a Christmas party in Malacanang. It smacks of utter insensitivity on the part of the President to merrymake while hundreds have been killed and thousands struggle to survive in the wake of typhoon Sendong,” Athena Gardon, deputy secretary general of the partylist group, added.
Gardon said the President should also be answerable for vetoing disaster preparation in the P5 billion calamity fund for 2011, which she said weakened government capacity to prevent natural disasters from causing massive destruction.
“We can dramatically reduce the devastating effects of of typhoons and other natural disasters by installing a clear and scientific disaster preparation plan which should include, among others, a decisive anti-large-scale mining stance and prompt evacuation drills," she said.
"It was irresponsbile for President Aquino to veto disaster preparation in the calamity fund for this year,” Gardon added.
In his veto message on the 2011 national budget, President Aquino said that the P5 billion calamity fund should be mainly used by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) for “actual calamities” and not for “preparation of relocation sites/facilities, and training personnel engaged in direct disaster.”
Gardon said Section 22 of Republic Act No. 10121, approved in 2009, which maintains that disaster risk reduction, prevention and preparedness should be the primary mandate of the NDRRMC.
The law further states that quick response to calamities should be secondary and should only be given 30% of the total NDRRMC budget.
According to her, the law affirms the importance of pre-disaster preparations over quick response measures.
"President Aquino’s decision to veto disaster preparation has resulted to unequipped personnel and inefficient government response before, during and after calamities. His decision is a man-made disaster that should be immediately reversed,” Gardon said.
Last month, Palatino filed House Resolution 1864 seeking an inquiry on the impact of the President's disaster preparation veto.
Meanwhile, Kabataan together with national youth groups is calling on the youth to take part in “Tulong Kabataan” which aims to consolidate efforts for disaster preparedness and immediate relief of affected communties.