Editorial: Post-Yolanda rehab work

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Saturday, December 7, 2013


AS THE focus post-Yolanda shifts from relief efforts to reconstruction and rehabilitation, worries among concerned groups necessarily mount.

Attending to the immediate needs of the victims for food, water, shelter, medical assistance, etc. in the first few weeks after the disaster can be easily monitored.

But not when the rebuilding of basic physical infrastructure and shelter, reinstating lost livelihoods and enhancing disaster preparedness starts.

This is why the appointment of former senator Panfilo Lacson as rehabilitation czar has attracted much attention.

The Aquino administration is setting aside billions of pesos for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the areas badly damaged by Yolanda. In a country that ranks high in the list of countries with corruption-ridden government bureaucracy, how the money is spent is a legitimate concern.

Monitoring this phase of our post-disaster response is therefore necessary. Relative to this, it would be absurd for concerned groups to focus the monitoring only on, say, how the money set aside by the government for post-disaster recovery. Where the aid given by foreign governments and institutions goes is also an important concern.

Then there’s the problem on how the monitoring can be done. Experience has shown that even if a project is well-scrutinized, the corrupt always finds a way to pocket portions of funds allocated for it. Examples are the anomalies found in projects implemented during our hosting of the Asean summit a few years back.

Meanwhile, there’s the greater concern expressed by an official of the Center for Disaster Preparedness during a recent forum in Quezon City.

Indeed, more than monitoring how aid funds were spent is the need to find out if the government has plans in place to make the areas devastated by Yolanda less vulnerable to the next disaster.

“Recovery is not about bringing back people to the same high-risk situation they were in before a disaster; it is about bouncing back and higher,” Malu Cagay, the Center’s deputy executive director noted.

What all of these musings amount to is that those concerned about how government conducts itself in rehabilitating the areas devastated by typhoon Yolanda have their work cut out for them. It’s a formidable task, but the monitoring should be done.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 07, 2013.

Opinion

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