Finally, Aquino approves Yolanda rehabilitation plan

Paterno Esmaquel II
Finally, Aquino approves Yolanda rehabilitation plan
(UPDATED) The go-signal comes nearly a year after Yolanda, and almost 3 months after Rehabilitation Secretary Panfilo Lacson submitted the plan to the President

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Nearly a year after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) ravaged the Philippines, President Benigno Aquino III approved the plan for the country’s biggest rehabilitation effort since the end of World War II.

Rehabilitation Secretary Panfilo Lacson told Rappler that Aquino approved the comprehensive rehabilitation and recovery plan (CRRP) for Yolanda-hit areas on Wednesday afternoon, October 29.

With this, Lacson said the public can “expect an accelerated pace” when it comes to Yolanda-related programs, plans, and activities (PPAs).

“It simply means that subject to the availability of the remaining balance of the funds required to implement more than 18,400 projects listed in the CRRP, all the implementing line agencies can forge ahead to undertake their respective PPAs,” Lacson said Wednesday evening.

Aquino’s approval came days before the Philippines, on November 8, marks the first year after Yolanda.

It took Aquino 3 months to fully give the master plan his go-signal. Lacson submitted the P170.7-billion ($3.93 billion) plan on August 1.

Back then, Lacson said bulk of the plan was already virtually approved by Aquino, and needed his approval only for a “residual amount” of P36 billion ($828.25 million).

The President, after all, approved on July 25 the local rehabilitation plans for the “6 bigger areas” hit by Yolanda – Tacloban City, the rest of Leyte, Samar, Cebu, Iloilo, and Eastern Samar.

On October 21, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr told reporters that Aquino wanted a “detailed timetable” before approving the final plan.

Like ‘building a town’

Citing Lacson, Coloma said rehabilitation actually began in July, “4 months earlier” than other countries that went through similar disasters. He also noted that the budget department has released funds, while the private sector has also been active in rebuilding Yolanda-hit areas. 

Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez, for his part, admitted that rehabilitation “really takes time” because it is like “building a town.”

On Tuesday, October 28, Romualdez said he is planning to build a 300- to 400-hectare township in the northern part of Tacloban, which will include features such as the following: 

  • a water distribution facility, including a sewer system

  • electricity

  • a road network

  • structures such as health centers, a market, and additional classrooms

  • a police station

  • access to the sea, which is around 8 kilometers away, to help fishermen

  • a branch of the University of the Philippines

Romualdez said in a recent forum with the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines: “The new township that we’re building, the new frontier in the north, is basically also giving them an incentive – an incentive that from where they were staying, now you’ve got a township that has value, a township that…when you stay there, you will have something that you can be proud of and you will have as an asset. You will own it.”

Still, a basic challenge is to build permanent shelters for Yolanda survivors. Romualdez said only 400 of the 14,500 needed houses will be “finally built” on November 8, exactly a year after Yolanda.

On Thursday, Coloma specified that the “Yolanda corridor” consists of “171 affected cities and municipalities in 14 provinces and 6 regions.”

He also provided a breakdown of the funding requirement approved by the President:

CRRP CLUSTER

FUNDING REQUIREMENT

Infrastructure

₱35,148,634,408

Social Services

26,406,233,815

Resettlement

75,678,683,100

Livelihood

30,631,237,230

TOTAL FUNDING REQUIREMENT

₱167,864,788,553 

– Rappler.com

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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.