• Budget for Yolanda rehab raised by P2 billion

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    The national government has raised by P2.1 billion the budget it is asking for the Yolanda rehabilitation effort.

    Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operations Office announced the revised budget Saturday, a day after President Benigno Aquino 3rd met Cabinet members to identify the priorities in the rehabilitation and reconstruction program.

    The initial estimate of P38.8 billion was increased to P40.9 billion “after factoring in the verified requirements for local government buildings and facilities, police and fire stations, as well as public markets,” Coloma said.

    Shelter and public infrastructure including roads, bridges, airports and seaports will get a 67 percent share, livelihood/employment, including support to agriculture and fisheries, 12 percent, local facilities, 11 percent, social services including health services, education and training, 9 percent.

    ”These budget estimates will be subjected to further fine-tuning through validation of initial rapid assessment findings. The DOST (Department of Science and Technology) is conducting continuing analysis of satellite images to guide on-ground assessment of actual needs,” Coloma added.

    The first priority zone will include 171 municipalities in 14 provinces and six regions where the devastation was at its worst.

    Of the worst-hit municipalities, with an estimated population of 6.6 million, 63 are in Region 8’s Leyte-Samar island provinces while the other 84 municipalities are in Region VI (Panay Island and Negros Occidental).

    ”The President emphasized the importance of fine-tuning budget estimates to ensure that every peso is spent wisely, considering the magnitude of government expenditures not just for post-Yolanda rehabilitation and for other calamities including Zamboanga, Bohol and Central Luzon, post-typhoon Santi,” Coloma said.

    The House Appropriations panel and Senate Finance Committee have approved the P14.6-billion supplemental budget to enable the government in addressing the impacts from Yolanda, other recent typhoons and the attack on Zamboanga City by the Moro National Liberation Front faction led by Nur Misuari.

    Coloma said Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla has been named the point man in the rehabilitation operations because of “his familiarity of the area as a former Leyte Governor.”

    Secretary Rogelio Singson of the Department of Public Works and Highways will in charge for shelter and reconstruction, Secretaries Proceso Alcala of the Agriculture, Gregory Domingo of Trade and Industry, Rosalinda Baldoz of Labor and Employment for livelihood and employment, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Director General Joel Villanueva, skills training, and Armin Luistro of Education and Patricia Licuanan of Commission on Higher Education, repair of state universities and colleges.

    “The timeframe for the critical immediate action would be between now up to the first half of 2014. But for the total rehabilitation, that would be continuing, even beyond 2014,” Coloma said.

    Relief operations continue in evacuation centers, he said, adding: “:As we map out the recovery and reconstruction, the building of bunkhouses in identified resettlement areas is also taking place.”

    National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) head Eduardo del Rosario estimated that rehabilitation and restoration work will take three to five years.

    “The reconstruction is now being addressed by the DPWH [but]it’s a challenge to work double time considering the number of [shelters to be built],“ del Rosario said.

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