Giant firms ‘adopt’ Haiyan-hit areas

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

Big firms adopt more than half the 'bridal registry' of typhoon-hit communities

FOR THEIR FUTURE. The Philippine government needs P361 billion to rebuild the lives of over 16 million people affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). File photo by Jonathan Hyams/Save the Children

MANILA, Philippines – The government is close to filling up the “bridal registry” for areas affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) after giant firms pledged to “adopt” more than half of these.

Rehabilitation Secretary Panfilo “Ping” Lacson confirmed this after a closed-door session with these corporations on Tuesday, January 7. 

He did not disclose the names of these companies that adopted “development areas.” He compared this list of areas to a bridal registry, from which big corporations can pick the local government units (LGUs) to help.

“It was very successful,” said Lacson, who earlier said he is banking on the private sector to lead rehabilitation efforts. (READ: Giant firms pledge to lead Haiyan rehab.)

In a text message, he said big corporations adopted “more than half of the 24 development areas” identified after Yolanda. These comprise 171 cities and municipalities clustered by the government.

Others pledged to take care of sectors such as housing, health, classrooms, and livelihood.

To prevent red tape

Earlier on Tuesday, he said the government has identified “developmental sponsors” for Guiuan in Eastern Samar; Ormoc, Baybay, a portion of Tacloban, and Palo in Leyte; and a number of towns in northern Cebu.

“We’re okay with the private sector participation so far,” Lacson said.

Named the presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery in December, he has made public sector involvement a thrust of rehabilitation efforts. (Watch more in the video below.)

Ang mainam kasi sa private, may sarili na silang kapabilidad, kapasidad, may pondo sila, at may management system silang sinusunod, may auditing rules silang sarili, na hindi na natin kailangang panghimasukan maliban na lamang doon sa mga standard na ise-set natin,” the former senator said.

(The good thing about the private sector is, they have their own capability, capacity, funds, management systems in place, and their own auditing rules, that we don’t have to interfere in except in relation to the standards we will set.) 

This will also prevent red tape, he said.

‘No strings attached’

He added companies that adopt LGUs will do this for free, as part of their corporate social responsibility. Their sole incentive is the “business potential” in rehabilitated communities.

“No strings attached,” Lacson said.

The key to prevent problems, according to him, is to avoid the “commingling” or mixing together of government and private funds. He said private sector projects should be properly “delineated.”

Otherwise, Lacson said, it will be difficult to manage all these projects.

Kasi saan magsisimula at magtatapos ‘yung pag-audit ng government funds kung hahaluan natin ng private funds? Hindi naman pupuwede ‘yon,” the secretary explained. (Where will the auditing of government funds start and end if we’ll commingle it with private funds. That cannot be.)

Tuesday’s session came after reports on the alleged corruption involving a local official, as well as contractors, in a Yolanda-hit area.

“They talked of 30-35% commissions,” Lacson said, citing reports. (READ: ‘Kickbacks on Haiyan bunkhouses at 30%.)

The former police chief said he is looking into this.

The amount at stake, according to the government’s rehabilitation blueprint, is around P360.9 billion in a span of 4 years. (READ: PH needs P361B for post-Yolanda rehab.)

Latest figures show Yolanda killed at least 6,183 people and affected 16.078 million others. – Rappler.com

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior multimedia reporter covering religion for Rappler. He also teaches journalism at the University of Santo Tomas. For story ideas or feedback, email pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.