Romualdez welcomes Lacson rehab plan for Eastern Visayas

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Thursday, May 22, 2014


By John Carlo Cahinhinan

TACLOBAN CITY -- Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez on Thursday said that rehabilitation czar Secretary Panfilo Lacson has already endorsed the downloading of funds to local government units (LGUs) for the expeditious construction of permanent shelters for the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in Eastern Visayas.

Romualdez welcomed Lacson's proposal, which will immediately address the much-delayed permanent housing for the survivors, as many of them remain in the so-called tent cities.

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"Secretary Lacson has recommended that funds should be released to local government units to lead the construction of permanent housing for the survivors," Romualdez told reporters.

The local chief executive pointed out that LGUs have the mandate to purchase lands for permanent housing, but Tacloban City has no financial resources for this.

He also explained it would be more practical to buy private properties here than develop the hilly and mountainous lands that are under the city's ownership.

"The LGUs are in the better position to buy lands to fast-track the construction of permanent housing projects. We have the mandate to do that, it's unfortunate that we don’t have the resources to implement," Romualdez said.

He said that thousands of his constituents are asking where have all the billions of dollars of aid from international donors go since many of them still suffer from the effects of the monster storm, whose destructions are beyond human imagination.

Romualdez said if Lacson's proposal would not be considered by President Benigno Aquino III, he proposed that funds should be given to the National Housing Authority (NHA), which has also the mandate to buy lands for the construction of private housing.

"All we want is permanent shelters for the survivors because they have been neglected and suffering too much despite the much-publicized huge foreign donations pouring in here. There is no truth that huge funds from international community have been downloaded here," Romualdez said.

He said that if the administration doess not want to heed Lacson's recommendation, the National Government can give the funds to NHA to purchase lands for the construction of permanent housing.

We will support all the way to "alleviate the plight of the survivors," the mayor said.

Romualdez said the city's master plan requires several billions of pesos, including P3.358 billion for the temporary and permanent shelters of 52,231 families whose houses had been destroyed by Yolanda.

"The city is still reeling from the aftermath of the disaster. But we are working very hard now to recover and part of our master plan will touch infrastructure, livelihood, resettlement, support and social services for the people of Tacloban," Romualdez said.

He said that the implementation of the master plan will rely on National Government, continued foreign donors' assistance, and loans.

"To continue receiving foreign aid is a challenge, that is why we show them where their money is going through the master plan. Once they donate, we acknowledge them. If the city can avail of nice loan package that can give us good rate and grace period of three to four years, that will definitely help the city pick up right away," Romualdez said.

He also said that the economic and livelihood aspects of rehabilitation plan is focused on the construction to provide jobs for the displaced workers, trading, and agricultural diversifications under short-term scheme and industrial development, tourism, business process outsourcing, and economic infrastructure development in medium to long-term plan.

The mayor said the plan for disaster preparedness is also a major consideration especially Tacloban City is geographically located in the path of the 20 typhoons on average that is hitting the country every year and also situated in the part of Leyte island where "funnel effect" occurs and tend to invite the strongest storm surges. (Sunnex)

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