DBM releases P17.7B for ‘Yolanda’ victims

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The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released P17.7 billion on Monday for the “recovery and rehabilitation program for communities” affected by the Super Typhoon Yolanda [Haiyan].

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This came in the wake of international organizations’ plea for additional funding for long-term rehabilitation of Visayas areas struck by the super typhoon.

In a statement, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said fund release would “expedite” the recovery of communities and relief operations for the safety and full recovery of Yolanda survivors.

According to the Budget department, the P17.7 billion included the P2.2-billion budget for the National Housing Authority’s (NHA) Permanent Housing Units program that supports the building of houses away from the “no-build” zones.

The total amount also covers P1 billion for education and health services; P2.87 billion for agriculture and fishery services; and P5.72 billion for public facilities rehabilitation among others.

Besides the P17.7 billion, the budget secretary said that they also released P3.1 billion in December last year for the immediate rehabilitation of Tacloban Airport serving the fleet of arrivals of aid and other assistance efforts coming in.

“The rehabilitation and reconstruction of areas ravaged by Yolanda is already well-accounted for in the Philippine Development Plan, which is the Administration’s medium-term strategy for bringing inclusive development to the country. The extent to which the typhoon struck down economic activity in several parts of the Visayas will have serious implications on the country’s growth agenda, far beyond the limits of Yolanda’s destructive path,” Abad said.

The DBM may be responding to the warning issued by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which said an inability to provide immediate, durable solutions such as bringing in materials and technical assistance to Typhoon Yolanda victims would result in what it called a “building back worse” situation in the Visayas.

In a statement on Friday, IOM chief of mission Marco Boasso called for urgent help for a longer-term recovery effort on the ground in the Visayas region.

“Unless we put long-term measures in place for the hundreds of thousands of people who have lost their homes and livelihoods, we will end up leaving people worse off than before the tragedy,” Boasso said after visiting the typhoon-struck areas last week.

The IOM said that only 30 percent of their $57.6 million six-month program appeal for rehabilitation on the ground was met at present.

The international organization also noted that though some businesses were functioning in Tacloban and other areas, people are still surviving and depending on relief food—“sometimes supplemented by short-term cash-for-work programs which pay P200 [about $4.40]per day.”

“The region is highly prone to extreme weather events and earthquakes so we must ensure that people are in a constant state of readiness to react and respond appropriately and are supported to build back safer, stronger homes,” Boasso added.

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