P300M wiped out

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

AROUND P300 million worth of government infrastructure in Cebu Province’s fourth district fell apart when typhoon Yolanda struck last Nov. 8, Rep. Benhur Salimbangon said yesterday, based on an initial assessment.

“I am very frustrated because I spent several years to find ways to accomplish the construction of school buildings, covered courts and barangay halls, among others, but what we have prepared for many years were destroyed in only three hours,” the district congressman said.

Tomorrow, Myanmar’s President Thein Sein and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala will visit Bantayan Island and meet with the mayors in the three towns there, to understand better the rehabilitation challenges ahead.

The Cebu Provincial Government has pledged to help revive the poultry farms of Bantayan, which used to supply the bulk of eggs in the Visayas.

In a separate interview, Gov. Hilario Davide III said he appointed Baltazar Tribunal Jr., one of his consultants, to head the task force that will oversee the rehabilitation of northern Cebu towns badly hit by Yolanda.

When the typhoon struck almost a month ago, it hit land twice in northern Cebu—in Daanbantayan town and Bantayan Island. At least 73 persons died in Cebu, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported.

But while northern Cebu’s death toll was far lower than in Tacloban, Guiuan and other areas, its infrastructure and agriculture losses are also massive.

Congressman Salimbangon said at least 181 barangays were affected, or about 48,450 families consisting of 219,265 individuals. He said 54,678 houses were destroyed, while 13,689 houses were damaged.

Port repairs

In a related development, the Cebu Provincial Board asked the Cebu Port Authority to repair immediately the loading ramp, roofs and windows of the two terminal buildings in Santa Fe, Bantayan, which the typhoon damaged.

A resolution drafted by PB Members Ribomapil Holganza, Joven Mondigo Jr., and Sun Shimura was passed by the PB during their regular session.

“The destruction of the second loading ramp has resulted in delays in off-loading relief goods and the back loading of cargo trucks carrying said materials,” a part of the resolution read.

Cebu, particularly the Mactan Air Base, has become a hub for the delivery of international and government aid to the affected regions.

So far, some P881 million worth of relief goods have reached affected communities, said the NDRMMC’s situation report yesterday.

But the needs are immense: about P17 billion worth of infrastructure was damaged, along with about P17 billion worth of agricultural crops and equipment. The NDRRMC said the death toll rose to 5,719 yesterday, with 26,233 injured and 1,779 still missing.

Help from banks

Some four million persons were displaced from their homes, and more than 76,000 continue to live in evacuation centers.

To get a better grasp of the damage in northern Cebu, the president of Myanmar and the agriculture secretary will fly by helicopter tomorrow morning, escorted by Governor Davide. They will meet with the mayors of Madridejos, Santa Fe and Bantayan.

Cebu Provincial Information Officer Ethel Natera said the survey will follow a short arrival ceremony in Mactan.

Natera said the provincial agriculturist has been collecting and validating data from each town’s municipal agriculturist regarding the crop damage.

In a press release, Provincial Veterinarian Dr. Mary Rose Vincoy said the governor may also request the banks, cooperatives and government funding agencies to waive some of their requirements and offer longer loan payment terms for the borrowers who survived the typhoon.

In the Bantayan towns alone, some P174.72 million worth of livestock were lost.

Vincoy also said the egg industry will take a long time to recover, considering that the houses of the poultry farm owners were damaged and they have not yet fully recovered from typhoon Frank last 2008.

Fair share

The Province thanked the World Society for the Protection of Animals for working with the Philippine Veterinary Medical Association and Provincial Veterinary Office in assisting the badly affected towns.

The Provincial Veterinary Office will conduct a massive vaccination drive in the northern towns to prevent the spread of animal diseases.

Salimbangon, for his part, said he is coordinating with the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Public Works and Highways, DA and the private sector on what to do to alleviate the situation.

He said he has the assurance of the Department of Budget and Management that the fourth district will get its share of the P14.6-billion supplemental budget that Congress approved last week for rehabilitation.

“At present, the typhoon survivors cannot survive without support. That’s why I did not attend Congress sessions for three weeks now because I am looking for ways how to help them,” Salimbangon said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 05, 2013.

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