SAGBAYAN, BOHOL: President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Thursday vowed that the government has sufficient funds to help Bohol rise again.
“Huwag kayong mag-alala, may kakayahan ang gobyerno ninyong tugunan ang pangagailangan ninyo, at yun ang pakay ng gobyerno talaga, ang asikasuhin kayo. So magtulungan tayo dito, malalaktawan natin itong pagsubok na ito at kakayanin natin ito (Don’t worry, government has the means to fulfill your needs. So let us help each other, we will overcome this crisis, we can do it),” the President said when he visited this town.
He said government will not stop giving aid to those affected by the earthquake until the lives of all Boholanos goes back to normal.
“Yung lahat ng nagsasabing wala nang pondo, etc, nagkakamali sila. Syempre, bago natin maitayo ito hindi naman ura-urada. Katulad doon sa port ng Tubigon, pinapaaral ko ‘yung design na ginawa ng port mismo, dahil kung ibabalik natin, sana hindi lang katulad ‘nung dati, baka mas maganda pa kaysa sa dati (Those who are saying that we are out of funds, they are wrong. Of course, we can’t repair everything at once. Just like the port in Tubigon, I have ordered a study of its design, because if we are to build a new one, it will be better than the old one,)” the President said.
The government will also help rebuild historical landmarks like churches damaged by the October 15 quake, he said.
Government agencies are finalizing the data to identify areas to be rebuilt and to know the structures that have to be prioritized, the President noted.
The President also called on the people to go back home once an assessment of their houses has been made so their lives could return to normal.
He ordered the speedy delivery of food supplies to areas where families were reportedly forced to beg.
Based on the assessment of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), relief packs which are good for three days have already been distributed.
Aquino also ordered other concerned agencies to hasten efforts to bring back normalcy in the province.
He said the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will be working hard to connect isolated areas in Bohol.
“So ang assurance lang sa atin ng DPWH, ‘yung apat na main bridges, within a month tapos lahat ‘yan. [So, the DPWH made assurance that the four main bridges damage by the quake will be repaired within a month],” he explained.
“By November 20 or earlier, maitatayo lahat ‘yon [ By November 20 or earlier, these bridges could be rebuilt],” Aquino said.
The President and his cabinet also visited Tubigon, dropping by the municipal hall before proceeding to the Tubigon Church, port and public market.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said all municipalities affected by the quake have been reached and provided with relief goods by concerned government agencies.
NDRRMC Executive Director Eduardo del Rosario said relief goods were turned over to the municipalities, which facilitates the distribution to the villages.
“If there are reports that one or two barangays have not been reached, we used our standby helicopters or navy and coast guards ships (if the area) is along the shoreline. All is covered,” Del Rosario added.
He said there were more than enough supplies for each person or family. “There is an overflowing of relief goods. A lot of relief goods are arriving in Bohol on a daily basis, assistance is on a continuing basis.”
He said the only problem is how to bring the relief goods from Manila to Tagbilaran.
“There are so many who wanted to give but the problem is the mobilization from other cities to Bohol province,” he said, adding that to solve the problem they were tapping all means of transportation at their disposal.
“We are talking of 400,000 people here. There are some who have already received and when their supplies ran out they would complain that they have not received but basically they were already provided,” Del Rosario said.
He noted that 34 out of the 37 bridges are already passable.
Malacañang also said that the Energy department was able to restore power to all towns of Bohol affected by the quake.
Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said 83 percent of barangays have also been energized and 62 percent of the households now have power.
“Ulitin natin: Lahat po ng bayan sa lalawigan ng Bohol, 100 percent po sa lahat ng munisipalidad at bayan at siyudad ay mayroon ng enerhiya o kuryente,” he told reporters.
Meanwhile, Loon Mayor Lloyd Peter Lopez said communities affected by the quake need alternative livelihoods while rehabilitation of the damaged areas continues.
He said that more than 2,000 fishermen were affected by the quake but most of them don’t want to go back to fishing.
”We can provide alternative livelihood for those fishermen who had been displaced na karamihan sa kanila as of now kung tatanungin mo sila ayaw nang bumalik sa takot na magka-tsunami,” Lopez said.
Because of this, the municipality is planning to organize seminars and training for those fishermen and other people affected by the recent quake.
”The intention is to conduct series of carpentry training sessions or seminars to be organized by the local government units and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority,” Lopez added
Some of them, he said, could help in the reconstruction of houses and public buildings in the municipality.
”So pwede silang i-tap if they still don’t want to go back to fishing, dito tayo mag-carpentry tayo,” Lopez said.
”This will be kung tatawagin sila mga kontraktors, so may alternative livelihood tayo at hindi na kailangan bibigyan pa sila,” he added.
Loon residents, mostly from the coastal barangays, now live in makeshift tents in open spaces surrounding the municipal hall, church, schools and hospitals.
“So for now, with the help of private sectors and government agencies, we’re giving out relief goods or food packs. And so far, based on our tally, over 25,000 packs had been distributed to all families in the municipalities,” he added
Lopez said the local government will also provide financial assistance to families who lost their loved ones in the quake.
He said 1,400 houses were destroyed in Loon but the extent of damage is still being assessed.
“We’re asking for help from the DPWH and other agencies or NGOs who intend to help us in providing assistance. And we in the local government also would provide counterpart funds for any expenses that will be incurred during the conduct of the evaluation,” he added.
Lopez also assured that funds are enough for residents who cannot afford to build new houses.
“They will be given temporary shelter,” he said.
The President earlier said P20 billion from government savings would be used to fund rehabilitation and relief efforts in Bohol.
Lopez also welcomes all relief organizations wanting to help. “I cannot control other group or agency who would want or would like to distribute their goods to the province. Welcome sila dito. Lahat naman welcome.”