MANILA, Philippines – When President Benigno Aquino III met with his Cabinet to discuss the Yolanda Recovery and Rehabilitation Plan on Wednesday, he approved the plan in principle but wanted more specific details.
There are tasks that need to be carried out immediately while the Executive is still finetuning the long-term rehabilitation plan, the President said.
On Thursday, November 28, Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Sonny Coloma said these are what Aquino wants each agency to bring to the followup meeting on Friday:
Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Mario Montejo was asked to “update the list of the most severely affected municipalities and cities as priority areas for rehabilitation and reconstruction.”
The DOST was also asked to work with the Palace communications group in improving communication, education, and information programs before calamities, using government media and its resources.
There have been complaints that the government’s messaging and warning about Yolanda were inadequate, having used the term “storm surge” instead of “tsunami-like,” which many feel would have been better understood by people. A scientist from the University of the Philippines, however, said it is dangerous to interchange the two.
DOTC and DPWH
Department of Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Abaya and Department of Public Works and Highway Secretary Rogelio Singson were asked to prioritize the rebuilding of the Tacloban airport, the transportation hub of the entire Eastern Visayas region.
Yolanda completely destroyed the Tacloban airport, leaving only the runway. For the long term, the two agencies were asked to look into the details of constructing an “all-weather airport.”
Deparment of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje was asked to issue a detailed Memorandum Order on the implementation of No-Build Zones pursuant to the provisions of the Water Code of the Philippines. (READ: Leyte reconstruction: MGB maps ‘no build zones’)
The Code, Presidential Decree 1067, prohibits the “building of structures of any kind within a zone of three meters in urban areas, 20 meters in agricultural areas and 40 meters in forest areas.”
His department was also ordered to “implement a mangrove reforestation program,” to protect coastlines, specifically in Leyte and Samar, which were most affected by Yolanda. (READ: P347M earmarked for coastal reforestation)
All government agencies were directed to submit “complete geo-tagging reports on damaged public facilities” to DOST and the DPWH, which would include pictures with detailed descriptions of “the extent of the damage” in their reports.
Their reports are expected to serve as basis for needs assessment, and as a guide for recovery and reconstruction plans per area.
Earlier, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said 80% of the proposed outlay of the supplemental budget of P38.8 billion will be used for the reconstruction and repair of homes, classrooms, hospitals, public markets, and other public facilities damaged by the typhoon.
Livelihood assistance a priority
Coloma said the government has prioritized livelihood assistance program for farmers and fishermen, after the super typhoon wrought extreme damage on crops and disrupted fishing.
Aquino issued Memorandum Circular No 59, “directing all government financial institutions to grant a six-month moratorium on outstanding loan payments, and extend interest-free loans to individuals and entities directly affected by the calamity arising from Typhoon Yolanda.”
The circular is addressed to the Land Bank of the Philippines, Development Bank of the Philippines, Government Service Insurance System, Social Security System, National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation-PAGIBIG, People’s Credit and Finance Corporation, Philippine Postal Savings Bank, Philippine Retirement Authority, Quedan Rural Credit and Guaranty Corporation, and United Coconut Planters Bank.
Aquino is expected to meet with his Cabinet again on Friday, November 28 – exactly 3 weeks since the typhoon – to iron out the government’s rehabilitation plan until the end of 2014.
On November 8, Yolanda hit central Philippines and left about 5,500 dead, and amid widespread criticism of the national government on its alleged lack of preparation and subpar rehabilitation efforts. The typhoon damaged at least P12.65 billion in crops and infrastructure, and affected over 10 million people. – Rappler.com