Palace turns over relief ops to LGUs

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DILG Secretary Mar Roxas has called on local officials in areas struck by Typhoon Haiyan to return to work, while the national government shifts it focus on reconstruction work

AFTER THE STORM. Relief operations at the logistics hubs in Tacloban City, Leyte are ongoing. Photo by Malacañang Photo Bureau

MANILA, Philippines – Local government units (LGUs) are taking over the management of relief operations in areas devastated by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), Malacañang said Thursday, November 21, as the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) called on all local officials to report back for work.  

The national government will now focus on rehabilitation and rebuilding efforts, said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. 

LGUs in provinces in the path of the typhoon, including Leyte and Eastern Samar, were paralyzed after Yolanda slammed the Visayas, killing more than 4,000 people

President Benigno Aquino III declared a state of national calamity afterwards as the national government took over relief operations in calamity areas, especially in hard-hit Tacloban City where over 3,000 people died. 

In the midst of criticism over delays in the delivery of relief goods even as massive aid both in the country and abroad poured in, the government scrambled to create additional relief hubs to fast-track the transport of supplies. 

Still, it took more than a week for equipment and relief goods to reach some towns. In an interview with ANC Thursday, Leyte 4th district Representative Lucy Torres-Gomez said politics among local factions was getting in the way of relief efforts. 

Asked who is calling the shots, DILG Secretary Mar Roxas said there was no ground commander for overall relief operations for Haiyan

Roxas, as interior secretary, is the de facto vice chairman of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), while Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin serves as the chair. 

Better coordination needed

Malacañang admitted the system of coordination between the local and national government could be improved in the event of disasters. 

As I have mentioned at this podium, what’s more important now are the relief efforts,” Coloma said. “But in the future, you are correct in pointing out that there must be a better way of achieving coordination to prevent serious lapses in the delivery of public service.”

The mandate of the NDRRMC indicates that it would be in charge of operations during calamities – from preparedness to relief and rebuilding efforts. But Coloma admitted that there was a lack of coordination between national and local officials. 

“The ideal situation is that there will be close coordination among all levels of government and based on the principle of subsidiarity…the higher level must not preempt a lower level that can do the job better. That is also the principle of autonomy,” Coloma said. (READ: The role of LGUs in disasters)

Roxas said he expects LGUs to convene their respective risk reduction and management departments soon as officials report back for work.

“To all councilors who evacuated, I’m calling on you to please report back for work and attend to your constituents,” Roxas said. –

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