• Government transitions from relief to rehabilitation

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    Nearly two weeks after Typhoon Yolanda struck Eastern Visayas, the national government is shifting towards the rehabilitation stage of disaster operations.
    “As relief operations at ground zero of the calamity zones are now being actively supervised by the mayors and the municipal disaster management structure, the national government is able to focus on the next vital task: rehabilitation and rebuilding,” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said  Thursday.
    Coloma said President Benigno Aquino 3rd met the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) board to discuss rehabilitation efforts for Yolanda survivors after discussing the major infrastructure projects on its regular agenda.
    “That meeting will just flow into the discussion of the rehabilitation efforts and the need to draw up resource generation and resource allocation program that will impact on the budget,” he said.
    Two sites in Basey, two in Tanauan, one in Tacloban, one in Marabut, and another in Palo have been identified as possible areas for the construction of bunkhouses for survivors.
    Construction is expected to begin on Saturday.
    The Palace also reported that Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Strategic Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang visited towns in Leyte “to inspect the relief items issued to the local government for distribution to their respective towns.”
    In a statement, Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Roxas and Carandang were able interact with Yolanda survivors.
    Commerce is beginning to pick up in Tacloban, with five gas stations reopening, Lacierda said.

    Gas is limited to P500 per vehicle, he said.
    The Department of Trade and Industry is setting up a Diskwento Caravan on Friday in Tacloban where eight trucks worth of food and goods will be sold.
    According to Lacierda, the Landbank branch in Tacloban is now accommodating over-the-counter transactions, while also providing ATM services.
    He said the Metrobank branch in Marasbaras in Tacloban is open from 9 a.m. to 12. noon, and the RCBC Zamora branch is accommodating over-the-counter transactions.
    The DBP is also providing ATM services, Lacierda said.
    The Union Bank in Tacloban provides cash withdrawal services only. Banking operations for the PNB branches in Justice Romualdez and Rizal Streets, and the Allied Bank will be held at the PNB Justice Romualdez branch, he added
    Lacierda said that as of Thursday afternoon, 987,423 food packs, 226,125 one-liter bottles of water, and 187,878 units of high-energy biscuits have been distributed.

    Citing a report from Roxas, Lacierda said 39 of the 40 municipalities of Leyte were serviced on Wednesday.
    “This is a significant increase in the number of towns reached, because more trucks are now operating from the Ormoc hub. The only town that was not reached was Matalom, which is the farthest town south of Ormoc. The delivery for the area is set to resume today,” he added
    Apart from that, Lacierda said the Tacloban hub released 59,999 food packs yesterday to service all 24 municipalities under it, while the Ormoc hub released 45,551 food packs for 15 of the 16 municipalities the hub services.
    Tacloban received 12,512 food packs Wednesday, he said
    He said 93 vehicles from the Armed Forces and 57 vehicles from other agencies have been allotted for food collection and distribution.
    “Task Force Yolanda reinforced fuel supply for the Ormoc hub to speed up the distribution of relief,” Lacierda said.
    The Philippine Air Force, with the help of the U.S. Air Force, is conducting food drops, while Philippine and US Marine units are doing damage assessment operations, he added
    Police presence in Tacloban has been beefed up, with 1,329 augmentation and 2,108 organic personnel already deployed.
    Lacierda said 84 bodies were processed last Wednesday, bringing the number of processed cadavers to 1,678.
    He said that 145 persons from the composite team of the national government and 205 volunteers are involved in cadaver collection and identification.
    CATHERINE S. VALENTE

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