MALACAÑANG on Tuesday clarified that there were no delays in implementation of rehabilitation projects in areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda despite an admission by President Benigno Aquino 3rd that certain “procedures” have prolonged the signing of the rehabilitation master plan.
In a news briefing, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said most of the projects contained in the master plan are already ongoing while some had been finished.
“There were no delays or hindrances to giving relief or in the implementation of projects that can be started,” Coloma added, explaining that the government began rehabilitation works through its five clusters, a first in the history of the country.
“The government continues to respond to the needs of thousands of families ravaged by Typhoon Yolanda or Haiyan. Spearheaded by the Office of the Presidential Assistant on Recovery and Rehabilitation [OPARR], these activities are being done by the five clusters: infrastructure, led by the DPWH [Department of Public Works and Highways]; resettlement, led by HUDCC [Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council] and NHA [National Housing Authority]; social services, led by DSWD [Department of Social Welfare and Development]; livelihood, led by DTI [Department of Trade and Industry]; and support, led by NEDA [National Economic and Development Authority] and DBM [Department of Budget and Management],” the official said.
Coloma added that while the c master plan was still being completed for the President’s approval, the five government clusters began identifying priority projects for the victims.
He said Presidential Adviser on Relief and Rehabilitation Panfilo Lacson, who was designated to coordinate all efforts of various agencies, started implementing programmed works as early as the first week of July this year, or eight months after the calamity struck.
“This is four months earlier compared to the experience of other countries. The President has ordered the DBM the release of funds for these projects. Note also that the agencies mentioned have Quick [Response] Funds,” Coloma pointed out.
Aquino on Monday said he is yet to sign the rehabilitation master plan due to some “procedures.” But Coloma said the most daunting of all these processes was the submission of local government units’ (LGU) assessment plans.
“The biggest component of the master plan is the LGU plans. You will understand how painstaking it is because 171 LGUs were affected and each of them labored to come up with their respective post-disaster needs assessment,” he added.
Lawyer Karen Jimeno, a spokesman for OPARR, expressed optimism that the master plan would soon be signed and implemented.
“Existing regulations make the process of project approval and funds disbursement long and cumbersome,” she said.
According to Coloma, the master plan is 8,000 pages long, excluding elements such as gender sensitivity, foreign assistance component and private-public sector cooperation.