‘Quick but slow’

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Friday, September 5, 2014


LOCAL government units (LGUs) are quick in responding to calamities but are slow with rehabilitation and recovery work, the Inter-Agency Humanitarian Evaluation (IAHE) team said yesterday.

On the other hand, humanitarian organizations are slow in emergency response but they are quick in building relocation sites.

This is the assessment of the international team after three days of appraising the implementation of international humanitarian aid programs in northern Cebu towns that were hit by Yolanda. 

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After hearing the IAHE team’s report, Gov. Hilario Davide III said he sees the need to amend provisions of the disaster law or create a law to address the concerns of the LGUs after a calamity.

He specified the need for a law that will ensure that government funds are released immediately to rehabilitate the calamity-hit areas.

Davide also said, however, that the Disaster and Risk-Reduction Management (DRRM) Law already has set mechanisms on fund release.

Under Republic Act 10121 (Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act), all local governments must set aside five percent of their estimated revenue to pay for disaster preparedness programs. 

These funds can be used to train people; buy lifesaving equipment, supplies and medicines; hold post-disaster activities; pay for calamity insurance; or build evacuation centers. 

Due to the group’s limited time, the IAHE visited only the towns of Bantayan, Santa Fe and Daanbantayan, the areas that suffered the most damage. 

Super typhoon Yolanda, which hit the Visayas on November 8 last year, left widespread damage in 15 towns and one city in northern Cebu.

Capitol consultant for rehabilitation and recovery Carmel Ulanday, who was with United Nations’ representative Rustico Binas when the latter presented their assessment and findings to Davide yesterday, said the IAHE team examined two areas of response by the LGUs of Cebu.

These are emergency response and early recovery towards rehabilitation.

“(We’re) very good in terms of complementation between an amount (extended by) international humanitarian organizations and the government,” said Ulanday, referring to the emergency response or relief operations, such as cash assistance given to typhoon survivors.

On rehabilitation efforts, most of the LGUs scored low, she said.

Some LGUs said the international humanitarian organizations are more efficient in rehabilitation.

The LGUs are quick to act on emergency but the humanitarian groups beat the LGUs in rehabilitation and recovery work, Ulanday said.

She said the government has yet to release funds for rehabilitation.

“Nothing has happened yet,” Ulanday said.

She said the LGUs are still awaiting the release of the rehab funds by the National Government.

Davide agreed with Ulanday and with the results of the evaluation.

“It takes a while, as there are procedures to follow, documentary requirements submitted to agencies as these funds are channeled and that would take some time,” the governor said.

It’s been 10 months since Yolanda struck.

Davide hopes that with the President’s approval of the Cebu Rehabilitation Plan, the rehabilitation of towns affected by the typhoon will run smoothly.

He urged the LGUs to be prepared and to use their disaster risk reduction fund.

“With our experience with Yolanda and the earthquake, we can anticipate what would be needed,” he said, citing the need to stock relief goods.

Davide also noted the observation of Binas, who pointed out the people’s need for more
information during and after calamities.

Another problem brought out during the evaluation was the acquisition of lots for relocation areas.

He said the Office of Presidential Assistant on Rehabilitation and Reconstruction (Oparr) is lobbying with the Office of the President for the Commission on Audit to grant exemption in titling timberland areas.

Davide said it can be made an undertaking between the LGU and the National Housing Authority, with NHA facilitating the titling of lots to be used as relocation sites.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 05, 2014.

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