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Rehabilitation work in Visayas in full swing by June – Lacson

/ 05:25 PM April 12, 2014

Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery Panfilo Lacson. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

SAN REMIGIO, Cebu, Philippines—Local officials of provinces devastated by Super Typhoon “Yolanda” (Yolanda) will have to wait a little longer before rehabilitation of affected areas goes full swing.

Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery Panfilo Lacson told reporters here Saturday that the target date for the full implementation of the rehabilitation program will be in June because his office has to wait for the submission by the affected provinces of what he called their “post-damage needs assessments” or PDNAs.

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The deadline for the submission of all PDNAs is on April 21, said Lacson, who was here for the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of 200 classrooms by Aboitiz Foundation in the towns of San Remegio, Medellin, Daanbantayan and Bogo City, all in northern Cebu.

Lacson asked for understanding, saying his office was merely complying with the provisions of the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act (Republic Act 10121) that requires the submission of all PDNAs before a master rehabilitation plan could be formulated and implemented.

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“We, the government, already anticipated the gaps… not because we are too slow for lacks of funds. There are funds but there are international protocols that have to be followed. Plus, we need to adhere or follow the law,” he said.

Lacson said he would recommend to President Benigno Aquino to allow northern Cebu and Leyte to proceed with their rehabilitation phase since these places have already submitted their PDNAs.

Such a move, he added, would  encourage local officials to be “proactive enough in submitting their needs, damage assessments and also their rehabilitation plans.”

But Lacson said some local officials conducted their own “pockets of rehabilitation” without waiting for the national government. He cited the northern Cebu, Leyte and Samar areas.

He said was recently in Tacloban City in Leyte, which looked vastly different from he was first there last December 13.

Lacson said he was to meet on Monday with the Department of Agrarian Reform  and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources  to discuss how they could assist in identifying government land to be used as relocation sites for Yolanda survivors.

During a round-table discussion here on Friday, some northern Cebu mayors asked for help from the national government in obtaining land to be used as relocation sites as some of the lands identified are privately owned.

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Pilar Mayor Jesus Fernandez said it was “easier to provide houses but difficult to purchase the lots.”

Eight mayors attended the round-table discussion with Task Force Paglig-on, the Cebu provincial rehabilitation group, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR).

They were from the towns of Sogod, Sta. Fe, Daanbantayan, San Remegio, Madridejos, Pilar, Tuburan and Poro.

Sta. Fe Mayor Jose Esgana said a 2.3-hectare lot had been identified as a relocation site but his town could not purchase it due to limited funds.

Task Force Paglig-on head Baltazar Tribunalo said the outcome of the round-table discussions would be put down in writing and submitted to the national government for study.

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