Post-Yolanda rehab to cost P361B

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

(Updated) RECOVERY and reconstruction efforts in areas damaged by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) will cost P361 billion and may take four years to finish, the country's planning agency said Wednesday.

The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said the total investment requirements shall cover shelter and resettlement (P183.3 billion), public infrastructure (P28.4 billion), education and health services (P37.4 billion), agriculture (P18.7 billion), industry and services (P70.6 billion), local government (P4 B) and social protection (P18.4 billion).

Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the amount will be spent through a "cumulative and flexible" implementation of the Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda (RAY) Plan.

“The government has allocated about P34 billion for the critical immediate actions, which are now underway. Another P100 billion is forthcoming in 2014,” Balisacan said.

Meanwhile, President Benigno Aquino III underscored the need to prioritize resilience than keep on rebuilding every time a calamity hits the country.

This was Aquino's message as he thanked the development partners who vowed to help the government in the reconstruction efforts in areas devasted by Typhoon Yolanda.

“Let me assure you: we know that we cannot allow ourselves to be trapped in a vicious cycle of destruction and reconstruction. We know that it is more efficient to prioritize resilience now, rather than to keep rebuilding. This is why we are going to build back better,” the President said in his speech during the Briefing for Development Partners on RAY held at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) office in Pasay City.

“The task immediately before us lies in ensuring that the communities that rise again do so stronger, better, and more resilient than before. Every dollar of funding assistance will be used in as efficient and lasting a manner as possible. The result of this determination: the Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda plan or RAY,” Aquino said.

The President said RAY would cover five key areas of rehabilitation: housing, infrastructure and agriculture and fisheries, livelihood and business, and the delivery of health, education, and other essential services.

“First, in terms of housing: as we are constructing bunkhouses to serve as temporary shelters for families, we are planning the construction of resilient, permanent housing communities in safe zones.

Second, infrastructure will not just be repaired or rebuilt, but will be bolstered; built to be stronger and able to withstand the onslaught of disasters.

Third, to revive agriculture and fisheries, which employ a large part of our countrymen in the Visayas: government will be there every step of the way—from restoring the viability of farmlands, to rebuilding or replacing assets that the storm destroyed, to providing inputs to restart farming and fishing. We will also train farmers and fishermen to give them new skills—all this, towards greater productivity and income diversification.

Fourth, for livelihood and business, cash for work programs, the opening of lines of credit, and mechanisms for financing and support for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) will be made available to help Filipinos recover, while we work with private partners to attract investments in affected areas and build a more inclusive local economy.

Fifth, government will ensure that the delivery of health, education, and other essential services remain constant in areas hit by Yolanda, as we repair and rebuild affected public infrastructure. Through RAY, we are not just settling for the minimum—we do not want our countrymen merely to make do. We are taking this chance not just to rebuild what was destroyed, but again more importantly, to build back better,” the President said.

Aquino admitted that because of the devastation brought by Yolanda, the government's resources were stretched out.

He said that his administration managed to address the need for other catastrophes that hit the country this year, such as the monsoon rains, other typhoons, the magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Bohol, and even the Zamboanga siege.

"Pero it was only with Yolanda where we are medyo—our resources were really stretched," he said in an interview in Malacañang.

During the same speech at DFA, the President also challenged all Filipinos to do their part in caring for the environment in their own way in order to counter the effects of global warming.

“Over and beyond this, I ask you to confront what I believe will be the rising challenge of our times: the increasing risks posed to all of us by global warming and climate change. In the aftermath of Yolanda, what we must build is a partnership borne not only of necessity, but also of the realization that helping all those in need—all those who suffer—must be accompanied by reducing the risks that allow this need and this suffering to arise,” the President said.

“Now, more than ever, we must work together to mitigate the abuse of the environment that has resulted, and continues to result, in tragedy, especially for the more vulnerable peoples of the world,” he added.

More than 6,000 people have died from Yolanda's onslaught on November 8 in the Visayas. Damage to property has already reached over P36 billion, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

The president earlier appointed former Senator Panfilo Lacson to oversee the rehabilitation efforts in typhoon-hit areas. (SDR/Sunnex)

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