Yolanda-hit towns: ‘Please send help’

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014


CEBU -- Five months after Yolanda, the wait for funds from the National Government continues.

Four town mayors in Cebu confirmed in separate interviews that after doing the required paperwork, their towns still hope to get the funds they need to prepare resettlement sites and to fix houses and public structures.

Daanbantayan Mayor Augusto Corro said the town is waiting for the National Housing Authority’s (NHA) response after they submitted all the requirements for the site development of their relocation sites.

Instead of housing materials, which they’ve received from local and international donors, Corro said that the NHA promised to help them with site development.

Madridejos Mayor Salvador de la Fuente, for his part, said the town has submitted its agreements with the NHA and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

“Nagpaabot na lang mi human mi nihatag sa among account number last Monday (We’re just waiting for the funds after we submitted our account number last Monday, April 7),” he said.

The town has opened a special trust fund account named RAY (for Reconstruction Account on Yolanda) as required by the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Recovery and Reconstruction (PARR).

Relief packs

Fifteen local governments in northern Cebu were badly hit when Yolanda swept across the Visayas last November 8. Across the regions, the typhoon killed at least 6,293 persons and injured 28,689 others.

At least 1,061 were still missing as of the April 3 report of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. It also said that the typhoon destroyed P19.5 billion worth of infrastructure and P20.2 billion in crops and agricultural equipment.

In nine regions, the national and local governments distributed some P1.25 billion worth of relief goods to survivors.

In a related development last Monday, Senator Cynthia Villar and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala distributed assistance to farmers and fishers in the four towns of Camotes Island.

The Department of Agriculture (DA)-Central Visayas said that about 1,800 farmers and fishers received coconut seedlings and fertilizers from the Philippine Coconut Authority.

Senator Villar also distributed galvanized iron sheets, nails and relief packs.

Livestock raffle

In Tudela, Mayor Erwin Yu said there were around 500 farmers, fishers and barangay officials who received packs of vegetable, corn and rice seeds. Tudela also received 25 motor boats from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

The DA also raffled off cows, goats and carabaos.

But for some local government officials, the wait for financial help from the National Government still drags, despite their submission of the required paperwork.

Mayor de la Fuente of Madridejos said that his town has submitted all the required documents.

The last ones were the memoranda of agreement (MOA): one between the mayor and DILG for P5.2 million worth of funds to fix government facilities, and another between the mayor and NHA for P5 million worth of housing materials. These materials are supposed to be for 2,119 households in 14 barangays.

Last April 7, the Cebu Provincial Board took note of seven resolutions from the Madridejos council, including the two that authorized the mayor to sign the agreements with DILG and NHA.

Paperwork

De la Fuente explained that the amount in the MOA with DILG was reduced from P31.2 million to P5.2 million; the Department of Public Works and Highways will shoulder the rest of the infrastructure repairs.

“We already submitted all requirements and I believe they (National Government) will download the fund simultaneously to all affected local governments,” said the mayor.

In Daanbantayan’s case, the town has identified three relocation sites for the residents living within the no-build zone.

Corro said the town needs to relocate more than 3,000 households to safer grounds.

The mayor also said the NHA is closely coordinating with Daanbantayan and the international and local non-government organizations that shouldered the housing materials for the town’s resettlement areas.

Daanbantayan’s relocation sites are located in Barangays Aguho and Taytay, and the town is working on the papers a third lot which sits on the boundary between Barangays Poblacion and Pajo.

Corro also said they have a committee who will select the beneficiaries.

He projected at least 662 houses will rise in the three resettlement sites, but also pointed out that these will not be enough for the number of families that need to be relocated.

Needs funds

In Sta. Fe in Bantayan Island, Mayor Jose Esgana earlier declined the NHA’s offer to provide construction materials to avoid duplication, after several NGOs donated similar supplies.

Instead, Esgana asked for the NHA’s help with site development.

For his part, San Francisco, Camotes Mayor Aly Arquillano said he cannot recall that NHA coordinated with the town officials for any fund assistance for housing materials.

Arquillano said the town still waits for the funds that the National Government will download to the local government.

This was supposed to be done after the Province submitted its reconstruction and rehabilitation plan to the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery and the Office of the President.

There are about 200 households from Barangay Esperanza who will be transferred to an elevated lot in the same barangay.

However, the municipality has yet to acquire the lot because it lacks funds. (Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 10, 2014.

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