OPARR approves rehab, recovery plans

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Friday, May 30, 2014


ALMOST seven months after super typhoon Yolanda struck, the cabinet cluster tasked to oversee rehabilitation and recovery efforts approved yesterday the plans of the provinces of Cebu, Samar and Leyte and Tacloban City in Leyte.

Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (PARR) Panfilo Lacson said the rehabilitation plans will be presented to President Benigno Aquino III for final approval.

The plans were presented to Lacson, Development Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, Secretary Florencio Abad of the Department of Budget and Management, Secretary Rogelio Singson of the Department of Public Works and Highways and Secretary Dinky Soliman of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in a meeting with local government officials held at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino.

Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas was also present.

Aside from Cebu Capitol officials, Leyte Gov. Dominic Petilla, Samar Gov. Sharee Ann Tan and Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez attended the meeting to present their rehabilitation plans.

Davide said Cebu’s rehabilitation plan increased to P12.2 billion from P10.45 billion after some mayors submitted new data.

Tacloban City's rehabilitation plan will cost P25 billion to implement; Leyte’s, P22 billion; and Samar’s, P6 billion.

Abad said that based on post-disaster reports, the total requirement to rehabilitate damaged areas in the Visayas is P105 billion. He assured that the government has sufficient funds to fund the rehabilitation plans.

Assistance

Tan said that although the rehabilitation funds have yet to be released, Samar received assistance from other national government agencies, including construction materials for those who lost their homes.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported Yolanda caused damage of P39 billion in agriculture and infrastructure. There were 1.14 million
houses destroyed; 6,293 individuals killed and 28,600 injured.

At least 1,060 persons remained missing.

Lacson said during a press conference after the meeting with local government officials that he could not say when the funds for the rehabilitation funds will be released.

In a related development, Chito Cruz of the National Housing Authority (NHA) said the Department of Justice is looking for ways to address the issue of relocation sites being alienable and disposable land.

The Commission on Audit requires that the government can only acquire land with titles. Purchase of lots covered only by tax declarations is not allowed.

No titles

The islands of Bantayan and Camotes, Cebu are natural reserves so they cannot be titled. Yet, local governments on the island need to provide relocation sites for residents living in high-risk areas.

Cruz said an inter-agency committee—which involves the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Agrarian Reform, the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and NHA—was formed to look for public lands that can be developed into resettlement areas.

Lacson admitted that the “no-build policy” within 40 meters of the coastline—which face the highest risk during storm surge and tsunami—is not practical.

He said the policy has been changed to accommodate beach resorts. He said that instead of declaring the 40-meter easement as no-build zone, the government has disallowed permanent dwellings in the area.

He said the important thing is to establish an evacuation center that can shelter people during typhoons.

Cebu Taskforce Paglig-on Chief Baltazar Tribunalo said it would be difficult to relocate everyone living in coastal areas. The practical thing would be to have an evacuation center and to establish an early warning system.

He cited the initiatives of San Francisco in Camotes Island.

Although San Francisco has coastal villages, there were no casualties when Yolanda struck because the local government established an effective and efficient early warning system and preemptive evacuation.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 31, 2014.

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