RIGHT after any calamity, local governments are required by law to respond. Local officials have to make sure that food, medical supplies and temporary shelter reach suffering communities.
In the rush to help communities recover, the needs of local governments, like the repair of its damaged buildings, can be overlooked.
A year after the earthquake shook Bohol and Cebu, some of the towns in Cebu Province have just started rehabilitating public structures.
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) 7 gave more than P20 million to nine local government units (LGUs) in Cebu Province where the quake damaged government-owned buildings.
The Province, for its part, fixed a crack on the walls of the main building and the legislative building by using its own funds for repair and maintenance. The Capitol has not yet received its benefits from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).
As part of the Bohol Earthquake Assistance (BEA) funds, the DILG allocated P23.86 million to fix municipal and city halls, health centers, multi-purpose buildings and gymnasiums in Cebu Province.
The DILG started distributing the checks to the towns last August.
DILG Cebu Provincial Director Jerome Gonzales said the release of the funds was delayed because the agency had to require some documents from the LGUs.
Engineers from the DILG-Project Development Management Unit will monitor the rehabilitation process in each LGU, Gonzales said.
Based on the DILG’s records, Boljoon town in the south received the biggest share in Cebu, at P13.91 million, to fix its municipal hall and multi-purpose building.
It received the first tranche last Aug. 5 of P11.12 million.
Last December, the Regional Development Council 7 approved a proposed rehabilitation and reconstruction program of Bohol, Cebu, Siquijor and Negros Oriental.
Cebu had listed an investment requirement of P1.5 billion.
This was supposed to pay for the repair of roads and bridges (P7.61 million), irrigation facilities (P10 million), repair of other public buildings (P510.85 million) and school buildings (P992.6 million).
However, Gov. Hilario Davide III said that the Province has not received any update on
Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer (PDRRMO) Baltazar Tribunalo Jr. said his office does not have a copy of any earthquake rehabilitation program, and that another agency may have prepared the plan.
Help for towns
(Sought for his comment, former PDRRMO Neil Angelo Sanchez told Sun.Star Cebu that all the documents were turned over to the office’s staff when he relinquished his post.)
For now, the towns are relying on the funds from DILG.
Alcoy town, which needed at least P3.90 million, received the first tranche of P3.12 million to fix its municipal hall.
Other towns that received assistance are Alegria (P390,000), Argao (P650,000), Dalaguete (P111,000), Moalboal (P1.3 million), Samboan (P260,000) and Sibonga (P230,000).
Carcar City reportedly received P2.11 million.
Director Gonzales of DILG said that some of the LGUs are still in the bidding and procurement process because they just received the assistance two months ago.
Argao, Alegria and Sibonga received their shares last month.
According to the DILG guidelines for the use of the BEA fund, the municipalities that need more than P3 million for rehabilitation work will receive the funds in two tranches.
The first tranche would be 80 percent of the total amount.
To get the remaining 20 percent, LGUs need to submit a letter-request and physical accomplishment report, showing that 50 percent of the work was already accomplished.
They also need to submit a report of disbursements, showing the how at least 50
percent of the first tranche was spent.
While funds for repair have been released to the towns, the Capitol is awaiting the release of its insurance benefits for Province-owned buildings.
General Services Assistant Officer Bernard Calderon said that the Province has yet to receive funds from the GSIS because it took them months to complete the documents needed.
Officer-in-charge Jone Siegfred Sepe of the General Services Office showed Sun.Star Cebu a document, indicating that the damage to the main Capitol building was pegged at P2.59 million, while that of the legislative building was P6.907 million.
Several Capitol-owned buildings also have yet to be repaired.
The Baex building at the right side of the Capitol building has been recommended for demolition. It would cost P31.86 million to fix it, but its insurance coverage is only P7 million.
Once GSIS releases the funds, these will be placed in the Province’s trust fund.
The Cebu International Convention Center is awaiting rehabilitation.
Negotiations between the Province and the Mandaue City Government, which is interested to buy the facility, are ongoing.
Governor Davide earlier said that the Capitol will no longer use any funds to fix the convention center. Its insurance coverage, Calderon explained, is good only for fire, lightning and typhoon damage.
Only the fixtures inside are covered, in case of an earthquake.