President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Thursday ordered his men to speed up the implementation of the post-Yolanda rehabilitation program.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that Aquino directed Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd and Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson to implement the rebuilding program for destroyed local government facilities including town halls, public markets, and civic centers.
Coloma said that the project which was approved last December is estimated to cost P4 billion.
Aquino also directed the budget department to study the possibility of giving financial assistance to national government employees affected by Yolanda, “similar to assistance given” to those affected by typhoons Pablo and Sendong.
Budget Secretary Butch Abad asked Cabinet members to submit recommendations on the possible realignment of department and agency departments to address effects of Yolanda and other calamities which were not considered in the 2014 budget.
The President also instructed the budget department to provide additional funds to complete the cadaver identification and burial process.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima presented the NBI’s report on the identification and burial of typhoon victims in Tacloban City.
Coloma said that Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Mario Montejo was directed by the President to submit by end-January the report on “simulation studies” on effects of possible storm surge occurrences.
The DOST is also a doing a “simulation study on flood-prone areas along 18 major river systems,” he added.
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje reported that DENR has completed the mapping of ‘Yolanda’-affected areas where the government would implement a 40-meter no-build zone.
Rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson pointed out the need for speeding up the clearing of debris in Tacloban City so that rebuilding efforts can proceed unimpeded, and to minimize citizen’s exposure to health and safety hazards. Paje said that there are 30 shredders available ready to be shipped “to crush the debris for proper disposal and possible recycling.”
The deployment of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) rescue battalion is also being considered.
On the damaged schools, Singson reported that 832 school sites have already been “cleared for rebuilding”, while the Department of Public Works and Highways is awaiting JICA the proposed design for “upgraded school facilities”. The design is being expected before the end of this month.
Health Secretary Enrique Ona said that “massive fogging operations” are being conducted in Yolanda-hit areas as the Department of Health (DOH) monitors and checks the reported spread of Chikungunya.
Meanwhile, Aquino directed the DENR and DILG to coordinate with the Department of Tourism in the rebuilding of tourism facilities along the coastlines, including the jetty port in Leyte.
Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya said that his agency is also awaiting the JICA’s study on the renovation of the Tacloban City airport. CATHERINE S. VALENTE