“Lacson: Help will roll out on a ‘massive scale, hindi tingi-tingi’”
A P12.2-billion rehabilitation plan for Cebu’s storm-damaged north areas was approved yesterday, along with plans for Western Samar, Leyte and Tacloban City.
With the sign-off by Cabinet secretaries who met yesterday in Cebu City, the plans will “trigger” the release of funds after final approval by the President, said Secretary Panfilo Lacson, presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery.
“We expect implementation on a massive scale very soon. Hindi na tingi-tingi (No longer by installment),” said Lacson.
The post-Yolanda rehabilitation plan for Cebu, where 15 towns and one city were affected, was prepared with a P10.4-billion budget but additional items were included at the last minute to increase it to P12.2 billion, said Gov. Hilario Davide III.
About half of the amount or P6.6 billion is pegged for shelter and resettlement, where typhoon-resistant earth-block houses costing P70,000 each would be built.
The second priority is livelihood and emergency employment.
Budget Secretary Butch Abad assured “there’s money” available in government coffers for post-Yolanda recovery.
Governors and mayors made closed-door presentations to Lacson and four cabinet secretaries at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel.
Governor Davide said he was pleased that the budget was approval and, if needed, Cebu province may still request additional funding.
From a P105-billion allocation for Yolanda rehabilitation, the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR) approved the plans for Western Samar at P7 billion; Tacloban City for P25 billion; Leyte province for P22 billion and Cebu province for P12.2 billion.
Seven months after the Nov. 8, 2013 supertyphoon struck, Lacson said government efforts are “right on track”.
He said instead of waiting for a national master plan, OPARR asked local government units to present their own needs and plans.
“This (process) is unconventional. We followed a bottoms-up approach. If we did it conventionally, it would have taken longer,” he said.
Lacson said this was the last step before presenting the plan to President Benigno Aquino III.
“In all likelihood this will be approved by the President,” he said since the plans were already signed by the cabinet cluster secretaries.
Present were Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, Budget Secretary Abad, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Trade Undersecretary Zeny Maglaya, NEDA Director General Arsenio Balicasan, and National Housing Authority general manager Chito Cruz.
Pressed to give a time frame, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman said 700 families living in tents in Tacloban city will be moved by June to nipa huts as transitional houses “not just bunk houses”, with the help of the local government and NGOs.
A total of 3,029 families in Eastern Visayas still live in tents, she said.
Soliman said a parcel of land has been identified to accommodate 3,000 nipa huts.
In Tacloban city, four properties have been acquired to accommodate 9,000 houses as they hasten the acquisition of government and private lots for building permanent and transitional housing.
In the meantime, survivors have to occupy tent cities as they have nowhere else to go.
“Tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang pag-build namin ng transitional houses in other places,” said Soliman.
DSWD will continue to give out shelter kits of GI sheets and nails to owners of partially-damaged houses.
“We want to make sure they are safe. The tents are not enough to give them protection,” she said.
On the problem of finding available lots for relocation, Lacson said Sen. Chiz Escudero promised to sponsor a bill if legislation is needed to declare some untitled lands as alienable and disposable.
For school opening in June, Soliman said that tents used as classrooms have been adjusted to make sure “it’s resistant to rain and not so hot”.
She said the education department is speeding up the repair of classrooms with the help of United Nations agencies and private groups.
“We are projecting to complete at least 50 percent of the repair of classrooms on or before the year ends,” she said.