President Benigno Aquino 3rd has created an inter-agency task group that will come up the rehabilitation plan for typhoon-ravaged Visayas.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said on Friday the task group will present a comprehensive rehabilitation program that will be tackled by the Cabinet next week.
The plan will serve as the basis for coordinating recovery and reconstruction efforts, and donor assistance, Coloma said.
The President directed the Cabinet to hasten the transition of relief efforts into the full-scale rehabilitation and rebuilding of typhoon-damaged areas, he said.
Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla, who had served as governor of Leyte, has been named task group coordinator.
Aquino also appointed representatives to a task force in charge of recovery and reconstruction.
Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson will handle the construction of infrastructure as well as the bunkhouses and temporary shelters for the typhoon victims, Coloma said.
For livelihood and employment, the President assigned Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, and TESDA Director General Joel Villanueva.
Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman will focus on the resettlement and psycho-social care for the victims, while Environment Secretary Ramon Paje was tasked to ensure environmental protection.
Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, and Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario has been designated for resource generation and allocation.
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas will coordinate with local governments, Coloma said, adding that their “involvement is a key component of the rehabilitation program.”
The task group will be guided by a post-disaster needs assessment which will be supervised by Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras.
Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan will oversee the planning coordination and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) will take charge of meshing together all proposed programs and projects for submission to the President and the Cabinet.
“The rehabilitation task group will be supported by the Cabinet clusters on economic development, poverty reduction and social welfare, climate change mitigation and adaptation, security and law and order, and good governance,” he added
Coloma said the President instructed the Cabinet to create “a fine-tuned plan” that is “responsive to the specific needs at the community level.”
The President also asked the help of local governments across the nation.
He assigned Gov. Aurelio Umali, president of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), “to mobilize the active participation of the Leagues of Provinces, Cities, and Municipalities and the Liga ng mga Barangay in concerted efforts to fully engage the citizenry at the grassroots level.”
As part of the rehabilitation program, Coloma said the adopt-a-town concept initiated by the Metropolitan Manila Deveopment Authority (MMDA) and Metro Manila mayors “will be replicated and expanded to include all the severely-hit municipalities and cities.”
The government, he said, will also create a program with an “adopt-a-family concept.”
“[This] will be fleshed out such that beyond the LGU level, communities and families in Metro Manila and other regions may extend and support families in the calamity zones,” Coloma said.
The task group is to present the plan not later than November 27.
Coloma said the President ordered Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo to look into the “extraordinarily high number of casualties” in certain areas in Leyte.
“He directed Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Secretary Mario Montejo of DOST to look into this matter. Secretary Montejo said that there are available satellite tracking records that will show the impact of the typhoon and which were the really hardest-hit communities,” he added.
CATHERINE S. VALENTE