PH needs P361B for post-Yolanda rehab

Paterno Esmaquel II
(2nd UPDATE) Bulk of this amount goes to rebuilding houses, says the rehabilitation blueprint released by the Philippine government – the biggest since after World War II

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 (2nd UPDATE) – The country’s biggest reconstruction effort since the end of World War II will cost around P360.9 billion ($8.17 billion) in a span of of 4 years, the government said in its rehabilitation plan released Wednesday, December 18.

Bulk of this amount will go to rebuilding homes until 2017. The Philippine government said it will use 50.79% of this amount, or P183.3 billion, for shelter and resettlement.

The next biggest chunk, or around 19.56% of the total, will go to jobs and businesses. The industry and services sector, which includes livelihoods, enterprises, and services, will require P70.6 billion.

The other investment requirements include the following, from highest to lowest: 

  • Education and health services – P37.4 billion

  • Public infrastructure – P28.4 billion

  • Agriculture, including crops, livestock, and fisheries – P18.7 billion

  • Social protection – P18.4 billion

  • Local government – P4 billion

The government said it needs these funds to “build back better” after Yolanda.

In an interview with reporters, rehabilitation czar Panfilo “Ping” Lacson said one way to “build back better” is to turn hospitals into permanent evacuation centers. (Watch more in the video below.)

Target: 2017

Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) destroyed a large swath of the Visayas, particularly in Eastern Visayas, when it barreled through the region last November 8. The storm left around 8,000 dead or missing, and millions more without homes or livelihood.

The government’s rehabilitation blueprint, titled the Recovery Assistance on Yolanda (RAY), states the government aims to complete “much of the recovery and reconstruction of disaster affected areas” in one or two years. 

This is consistent with Lacson’s promise to finish at least 80% of the rehabilitation effort by June 2016, when the Aquino administration ends. (READ: Lacson: Yolanda rehab until June 2016.)

“However, experience from other large post-disaster situations indicates that the reconstruction process may last for up to 4 years, especially for programs that involve addressing long-standing development challenges,” the government said in RAY.

This means the government aims to complete it by 2017.

Cabinet officials presented RAY to foreign donors at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Pasay City on Wednesday. 

In his closing speech, President Benigno Aquino III said the government is confident “first, because we know that we are not alone.” (Watch more in the video below.)

“The second and most important reason can be found in the attitude of the thousands of volunteers and relief workers I saw – an attitude that states, with the utmost certainty, ‘Our failure means the suffering of our fellowmen and therefore we cannot fail,'” Aquino said.

No power over funds

The challenge for the government is to keep these funds from being corrupted.

Lacson vowed to crack down on those who want to steal these. The rehabilitation czar, however, can only do so much. (READ: Lacson smells rehab corruption in LGUs.)

The memorandum order that detailed his job only gives him oversight functions, not power over funds. Lacson also said his appointment has no legal weight. (Watch more in the video below.)

But Lacson said this is not an impediment. (READ: Lacson as rehab czar: Does he need more powers?)

“Alam mo, senador ako for 12 years, ano, wala naman akong hawak na pondo ng line agencies doon. Wala rin namang legal weight ‘yung aking pagiging senador except yung oversight function ng Congress. But nakakapag-file naman kami ng kaso ‘pag may mga shenanigans. ‘Pag may mga anomalies, we see to it that we guard against those, ang sabi ko nga kanina, mga kleptomaniacs of the world,” he said in a forum on Monday, December 16.

(You know, I was a senator for 12 years. I didn’t handle funds of line agencies back then. My being a senator, too, didn’t have legal weight, except for the oversight function of Congress. But we managed to file cases in case of shenanigans. When there are anomalies, we see to it that we guard against those kleptomaniacs.)

At stake is rebuilding lives of over 16 million people that Yolanda affected. – Rappler.com

Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.