Red Cross to government: Don’t forget Bohol, Zamboanga City

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

THE Philippine Red Cross (PRC) urged Malacañang to consider widening the mandate of newly appointed rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson and include other calamity-stricken areas such as Bohol and Zamboanga City in the reconstruction program.

Gwendolyn Pang, PRC secretary general, said that they are hoping that the government will provide equal attention to the victims of the earthquake in Bohol and the hostilities in Zamboanga City.

"If we get a chance to meet with him (Lacson), surely we will share with him the information and needs in the areas previously affected by other disasters and, perhaps, we will give suggestions and recommendations," said Pang.

"If Senator Ping (Lacson) will be in charge of typhoon-affected areas only, the government should assign a person to look into other areas," she said.

The Red Cross official noted how the communities affected by the two crises remain in need of help from the government and NGOs as seen by the PRC itself.

"The situation there remains terrible. The last thing we want is for these to be forgotten disasters," said Pang.

Last September, Zamboanga City was destructed by the weeks-long stand-off between the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the military.

Last October, a magnitude-7.2 earthquake hit the Visayas region, with Bohol being the worst hit.

The two calamities, though, were recently overtaken by the massive destruction wrought by super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) last November.

So much destruction happened that it prompted Malacañang to appoint Lacson last week as rehabilitation czar for Yolanda-hit areas.

Pang also said that they are hoping for the success of Lacson since hundreds of thousands of people will need all the help from the government.

The Red Cross official said the success of Lacson largely hinges on the support he will get from other government agencies and non-government organizations.

"I think he will be able to do his job well if agencies involved, people involved here will give him the support that he will b needing. I think, at this time, the best way is to help each other kasi if we don't do that, all Filipinos will be at the losing end of this," said Pang.

"The Red Cross is very much willing to work with former senator Lacson especially if it’s really a real call for a national master plan for recovery and rehabilitation. We can't work separately," she added.

On the other hand, Pang also hoped that Lacson would be open to suggestions from different stakeholders involved in rehabilitating affected areas.

"In the case of former senator Lacson, he should also be open to suggestions and recommendations from the expert," said Pang.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross did not express opposition to the plan of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to stop providing relief assistance to the typhoon victims as long as the timing would have strong bases.

"Depende sa community na tina-target nila (where to stop). Tama naman 'yun since it will promote independence and self-help… But the timing should be good such as if they already have sustainable livelihood," said Pang.

Last week, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman said the distribution of relief goods being provided by the government to the victims of super typhoon will be stopped by the end of December in order to allow the victims to learn how to stand on their own feet. (HDT/Sunnex)

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