Duterte sets deadline for ‘Yolanda’ shelters
Disappointed at the slow pace of rehabilitation three years after Supertyphoon “Yolanda” hit the country, President Duterte on Tuesday ordered officials to complete the construction of new shelters for the survivors by December.
In a visit to Tacloban, one of the hardest hit provinces when Yolanda made landfall, Mr. Duterte apologized for the delay and also promised a P10,000 cash assistance for each survivor.
Officials in charge
He tasked Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Diño to oversee the construction efforts.
He also directed officials to follow the instructions of Vice President Leni Robredo, who is in charge of key shelter agencies. Robredo joined him in Tacloban on Tuesday to commemorate the third anniversary of the onslaught of Yolanda.
The President said he was saddened when he saw that only a few people were living in new bunkhouses three years after the monster typhoon struck.
“I am not satisfied. As a matter of fact, it’s BS to me,” he said in a speech before survivors.
“I want this thing completed. I will be back,” he said.
He joked that if the houses would not be completed promptly, it might be better to just build a new cemetery in preparation for “Yolanda Jr.”
According to Mr. Duterte, the rehabilitation efforts should have been completed in one year.
“I must admit that government has fallen short, very short, of the expectations of the people. Yolanda [rehabilitation projects] should all have been completed one year after,” he said.
The officials involved should have cut through all the red tape, he said.
“I really can’t tell where I should begin. Is it really the rules, which [are there] also to protect the money of the people, or the people who do not want to work?” he said.
He also said he had introduced reforms in the national government which require employees to hasten the processing of documents. These must be completed in one month.
He said he cannot control the local government, but since they are under his supervision, he could come out with rules that would bind everybody, even government corporations.
In particular, he called on officials of the Local Water Utilities Administration, the National Housing Authority, and the Department of Public Works and Highways not to drag their feet.
“You do that again and I will fire all of you,” he said.
Local government permits should be issued promptly, he said, noting that permits are processed in three days in Davao City.
The problem is that movement on the ground was in “trickles,” he said, and called on lazy government personnel to do their jobs.
“Indolence is part of corruption. When you are paid eight hours to do your work, work for eight hours. Do not shortchange the public,” he said.
Mr. Duterte also called on the people to cooperate with the government on its rehabilitation efforts. “Do not delay government projects,” he said.
More than 6,000 were killed when Yolanda, the strongest storm to make landfall, tore through the Philippines in 2013.
Hundreds of thousands more were displaced when strong winds uprooted trees and power lines, tore down houses, and caused storm surges that wiped away everything in their path.
The unprecedented strength of the typhoon and the massive scale of destruction prompted a deluge of international aid.
But rehabilitation efforts had been beset by problems and delays.
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