Lacson eyes P106-B ‘Yolanda’ rehab masterplan
MANILA, Philippines—Rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson intends to finish by end-June this year a P106-billion comprehensive masterplan to rebuild the Visayan cities and towns devastated by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” and to implement at least 85 percent before President Benigno Aquino III steps down in 2016.
Speaking to business reporters Tuesday night, Lacson said the masterplan would consolidate programs set by implementing agencies as divided into five crucial clusters—infrastructure, livelihood, resettlement, support and social services. It will also incorporate through a “bottoms-up” approach the rebuilding plans made by local government units.
“Why delay some battalions when they can forge ahead without waiting for the whole corps,” Lacson, the chief of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (Oparr), told reporters after the signing of a deal with the SM group to rebuild a 120-room hospital in Tacloban City.
“My plan is to go to the President, bring with me properly signed rehab plans vetted by line agencies like DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways), DepEd (Department of Education) and so on, and if he approves a cluster of municipalities or a province like Northern Cebu or Leyte, then we can go full swing with rehabilitation. We can expect that to happen by June or July,” he said.
Lacson said the post-disaster rehabilitation could cost about P106 billion.
He also said the government had actively engaged the local private sector in rehab effort. “So far, we have collated at least P5.2 billion from the private sector but there are still many more CSR (corporate social responsibility) programs in the pipeline,” Lacson said.
Lacson said the International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) would help construct a new Eastern Visayas regional hospital.
About P24 billion had been committed by foreign donors such as multilateral institutions but only P700 million had so far been delivered, Lacson said. “Maybe they are waiting for concrete rehabilitation plans,” he said.
“And there’s more coming,” he said, noting that a group from the UAE called Red Crescent had committed $10 million. This UAE group will adopt low-profile areas that not too many local groups are focusing on, he said.
One of the bottlenecks seen by the government was to address multi hazards and come up with a geohazard map. As such, he said his office—using a $10-million technical support from USAID—was helping LGUs draft their plan of action and increase their absorptive capacity.
Lacson said the government’s post-disaster efforts were based on a cluster approach, with each cluster headed by a department secretary who will lead the submission of an action plan. These will be consolidated into a masterplan by June 30, he said.
The infrastructure cluster, for instance, is headed by DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singon and the livelihood cluster by Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo. The resettlement cluster is led by Vice President Jejomar Binay.
On a geographical basis, the 171 disaster-stricken cities and municipalities were divided into 24 areas of “intervention and development” which could be adopted by the private sector. Out of 19 areas, 24 have so far been adopted, Lacson said.
Warning to traders
In Tanauan, Leyte, Lacson said new housing units were recently turned over by Gawad Kalinga with the help of private sector groups. The Aboitiz group, he noted, had committed a lot as well, especially for a school building.
At the same time, Lacson warned unscrupulous traders and businessmen who would exploit this situation. “We’re running after traders and hardware owners selling sub-standard materials. I’ve requested DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) to deputize the PNP (Philippine National Police),” he said.
Lacson said 85-90 percent of the masterplan could be realistically fleshed out during the term of President Aquino.
There are 900,000 families whose homes were damaged by Yolanda, of which 200,000 are targeted for resettlement because their old homes were in dangerous areas, he said. “Some of them are homeless from the start. This could be an opportunity for them to have their own homes,” he said.
For middle-class families whose homes were devastated, he said lending facilities would be provided.
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