Bohol’s recovery from quake ‘slow’ as rebuild efforts hit snag
TAGBILARAN CITY, Philippines — On the day that marked the first anniversary of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in the province of Bohol, Felix Dumay, a father of four, and his wife were given a new house.
They were the first to receive a 25-square meter bungalow, one of several to be given to 458 quake-affected families in 14 barangay (villages) in Cortes municipality.
Cortes was one of the areas in Bohol struck by the October 15 earthquake in 2013 that killed 221 persons and injured hundreds.
But amid the distribution of shelter and rehabilitation assistance from the national government, the local officials of Bohol continue to face challenges in rebuilding their province.
Mayors and other local officials whose towns are behind schedule in their rehabilitation efforts got a dressing down from Local Government Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II.
”So kung hindi pa ako pupunta dito, hindi pa mangyayari ‘yan? Sasabunin tayong lahat ni Pangulo at sasabunin din tayo ng ating mga ‘boss’, ng mga tao,” he told the mayors who failed to complete the Program of Work for 1,066 projects during Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) assessment at the Bohol Tropics Hotel last Wednesday.
The mayors then sought assistance from the DILG and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), saying they were lacking engineers to design the damaged structures.
Last June, Roxas gave a P2.4 billion disaster assistance fund to Bohol for the reconstruction of city and municipal buildings, public markets, civic centers and barangay facilities.
However, before a town or a municipality could avail of the rehabilitation fund, they should present first their Programs of Work.
“Nandyan na ang P2 billion pero dahil sa kakulangan ng kakayahan na isagawa ‘yung mga Programs of Work bumagal na ang proseso,” the disappointed secretary told reporters after the meeting.
The Program of Work is a proposal containing estimated cost of materials and the project. It is needed before a project undergoes bidding until its implementation.
But Roxas said there was no more time for blame-passing. Instead, he assured the local officials that the DILG would set aside funds to hire more engineers for the rehabilitation projects to start moving. He gave a one-month deadline to the mayors to complete the proposals.
Still a ‘food basket’, tourist spot
Despite the setbacks, Governor Edgar Chatto said that Bohol has recovered about “70 percent”.
“Bohol has moved on already. Bumangon na ang Bohol. We continue to work for the fast-tracking of the rehabilitation of the province,” Chatto told reporters.
He said Bohol’s tourism industry was picking up after it suffered for months.
“We can expect Bohol to be still a food basket of Region 7. (Our) tourism is picking up from a very, very sad experience and now we are back to business,” he added.
Chatto said they were also working on the recovery of the people and disabusing the minds of tourists who think that the entire Bohol was severely damaged by the quake.
Chatto said they were also considering making the Bohol faultline, which he said was much higher than Japan, another tourist attraction in the province.
Recovering from Yolanda
In Cebu province, Governor Hilario Davide III said their province has completely recovered from the earthquake but noted that they were still reeling from the devastation caused by Supertyphoon Yolanda.
“(By) far, we are okay because compared to Bohol, Cebu isn’t as severely damaged so it’s a bit quicker for us to recover but there was Yolanda and we’re still rehabilitating the towns affected by the typhoon,” Davide said in a separate interview with INQUIRER.net at the Koalisyon ng mga Mamamayan Para sa Reporma (Kompre) meeting in Cebu City.
The Visayas earthquake killed 12 persons, destroyed structures and churches in Cebu, including the centuries-old Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño.
When Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) struck in November 2013, more than 70 people died in Cebu.
Originally posted: 7:36 pm | Friday, October 17th, 2014
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