Palace: Slow rehab due to Yolanda’s powerful strength
MANILA, Philippines – The unprecedented magnitude of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) explains the government’s sluggish rehabilitation program in Yolanda-affected areas, the Palace said Sunday, November 8, two years after the killer typhoon battered the Philippines.
“Alam ‘nyo po, ito po ‘yung pinakamalaking bagyo po na ating nadatnan po, hindi lang po dito sa Pilipinas pero sa…recorded history,” Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said, citing news reports, when asked to comment on criticisms against the government.
(You now, this was the strongest storm we’ve seen, not only in the Philippines but in…recorded history.)
Packing winds of up to 235 km/h, Yolanda killed at least 6,300 people and affected more than 1.47 million families when it struck the Philippines on November 8, 2013. (READ: IN NUMBERS: 2 years after Typhoon Yolanda)
Given this context, Lacierda said he understands if critics think rehabilitation has been sluggish. (READ: Binay: Yolanda rehab a ‘management disaster’)
Still, he pointed out in the vernacular that the Philippines “experienced a huge disaster.” The government, he added, continues to do its job.
“We need to build back better communities,” the Palace spokesman said.
Lacierda then cited the rehabilitation of public markets, municipal halls, and civic centers, among other things.
He also said the United Nations (UN) even praised the Philippines for rehabilitation work that is “faster” than in other disaster-stricken countries.
UN officials, however, have sent mixed signals about rehabilitation efforts after Yolanda.
Margareta Wahlstrom, UN special representative on disaster risk reduction, said in September that areas ravaged by Yolanda had shown dramatic improvement.
A month before this, however, UN special rapporteur Chaloka Beyani said the Philippines has not done enough to rebuild after Yolanda.
(Watch more in the video below)
Aquino: 'We pause in prayer'
President Benigno Aquino III, for his part, on Sunday issued his own message to commemorate the second anniversary of Yolanda.
Aquino said: “We pause in prayer for the loved ones we lost, and pay tribute to the soldiers and civilians who placed themselves in danger to help their fellow man. May the memory and lessons of that time inspire us to persevere in building back better, and in living up to the solidarity, resilience, and generosity of Filipinos from all walks of life demonstrated not only then, but in all times of challenge and adversity.”
“God's grace has enabled our country to ease the sufferings of those who lost everything in Yolanda, and reestablish communities that are once again working to have a safer, and prosperous future. This would not have been possible without the world's embrace of our people and our people's own heroic generosity and sacrifice,” the President added.
“The Filipino people will never forget the kindness that allowed us to overcome this tragedy and are resolved to be there for nations and peoples similarly affected by tragedy,” he said.
Government critics, on the other hand, slammed the Palace for its rehabilitation program. Marissa Cabaljao, secretary-general of the group People Surge, said everyone “is convinced that reconstruction in Yolanda-affected areas is snail-paced, except Malacañang.”
Cabaljao said: “They brag that they performed better than the US in post-Katrina recovery. But a developing country like Venezuela managed to build 100,000 permanent houses in less than a year. What Aquino and his cohorts failed to do in two years, a fellow developing country managed to accomplish in less than a year!”
“Truly, (the) Palace is under a delusion. Or deliberately bragging something out of nothing. Or trying to save its face from critics,” she said. – Rappler.com