'Stop exodus of jobs after Haiyan'
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – One hundred days after a killer typhoon left this city in ruins, restaurants, stores, and even a car showroom give life to streets once littered with dead bodies.
Signs of recovery have begun to appear, but the government needs more work to revive the economy in areas that Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) ravaged on Nov 8, 2013.
To “build back better,” after all, means more than sturdier buildings, said Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, chairman of the Senate public works committee. (READ: Building back better: Lessons from Aceh, Sichuan, and Haiti)
It also points to a vibrant economy, which boils down to creating more jobs.
"Siyempre 'yun ang buhay ng ating mga kababayan,” Marcos told reporters when he visited Leyte on Thursday, February 13. (Of course that's the life of our countrymen.)
Marcos said the government, should then “start rethinking” the economy in typhoon-hit Eastern Visayas. He urged officials to craft a framework to lure businessmen back.
“Kasi pag umalis 'yan, baka hindi na babalik eh. Kaya namin sinasabing madaliin, para makabangon uli 'yung mga dating businesses dito, pati mga services, et cetera, et cetera,” Marcos explained. (Because once they leave, they might not return. We're saying we should do this quickly so that all existing businesses can run again, along with services, et cetera, et cetera.)
(Watch more in the video below)
Livelihood 'immediately felt'
The Philippines' rehabilitation blueprint, a document called Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda (RAY), said the typhoon affected 80% of businesses in Eastern Visayas alone. This is based on data from regional trade offices. (WATCH: Haiyan rehab blueprint: 'Failure means suffering')
Most of the affected business “were micro- and home-based.”
RAY initially pegged at P116 billion ($2.628 billion) the damage and losses wrought by Yolanda on the trade, industry, and services sector. This sector needs P70.8 billion ($1.604 billion) for recovery and reconstruction.
Yolanda also dealt a huge blow on the agriculture sector.
The sector sustained P62.107 billion ($1.407 billion) in damage and losses, according to RAY. It needs P18.680 billion ($423 million) for recovery and reconstruction.
The Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (PARR), tasked to coordinate rebuilding efforts, said it especially wants “to improve the livelihood portion.”
"That's what will immediately be felt by the population in the area,” Rehabilitation Undersecretary Danilo Antonio told Rappler.
To work on this, he said PARR will soon meet with the Cabinet's economic cluster.
He cited the need to “stabilize prices.” One of the ways to do this, he said, is for merchants to move their goods faster into Regions VI, VII, and VIII to make prices lower. He said “most of the consumer goods companies” have committed to this.
'Give us business'
The mayor of Palo town in Leyte, Remedios Petilla, said the local government is helping affected farmers and fishermen.
It is offering, for one, a cash-for-work scheme to affected farmers.
Petilla told Rappler up to 30% of farmers in Palo couldn't plant because of Yolanda.
Under the cash-for-work scheme, the government will pay them in exchange for preparing their farms for the next cropping season in March or April.
In Tacloban, 39-year-old Rina Etang made a simple wish to the President: a small business.
“PNoy, sana po, ang mga nasalanta ng Yolanda, hindi lang ako, marami kaming lahat dito, sana po bigyan niya kami ng pampuhunan lang, 'yung hinihingi lang namin, puhunan para makaumpisa na naman kami sa uno,” Etang said.
(PNoy, I wish you can give Yolanda survivors – not just myself, but many of us, too – capital to start our businesses. That's all that we wish for, capital, so we can start again.)
In Yolanda-hit areas, the challenge to revive the economy comes even as hundreds of typhoon survivors, such as Etang, still live in make-shift houses.
The United Nations said “huge needs” remain after Yolanda thrust the Philippines in its biggest reconstruction effort after World War II. – Rappler.com