Gov’t to address corruption concerns on ‘Yolanda’ rehab


CEBU CITY: Corruption concerns cannot be discounted in the rehabilitation and reconstruction program in areas devastated by super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

Right after the calamity struck Eastern Visayas and surrounding areas in November 2013 issues about how the donations are being used have been raised.

The slow-paced rehabilitation of damaged areas and the response given to the victims were also hit even as the government maintains that reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts are on-track.

The government has adopted a bottom-up approach wherein local government units (LGUs) have been tasked to formulate their respective rehabilitation and reconstruction plans to ensure that all the necessary things they need are included in the plan since they know these more than the national government.

On Friday, the Cabinet cluster signed the rehabilitation and reconstruction program of three provinces and a city as a support for its approval by President Benigno Aquino III.

These provinces are Samar, Cebu, and Leyte and the city of Tacloban.

Based on the post disaster needs assessment (PDNA), the rehabilitation of all devastated areas will cost about PHP105 billion, more than three times lower than the PHP350 billion projected earlier.

Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad, in an interview, said there are enough funds to finance the rehabilitation program.

He said there is an allocation for this under the 2014 national budget, there is remaining balance from the supplementary budget approved by lawmakers last year to fund immediate needs of the typhoon victims, and there are unprogrammed funds that can be tapped.

“I don’t think that there will be problems putting together the funding requirements to meet the recovery and construction cost of the damage,” he said.

And because of the availability of funds that can easily be accessed, questions have been raised on how it will be utilized and the credibility of the LGUs to get implement the programs.

Abad said they can release the funds either to the line agencies like the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DWSD) and the National Housing Authority (NHA) or directly give it to the LGUs.

He, however, clarified that LGUs that will be directly given financing need to prove first that it has the capacity to implement the rehabilitation and reconstruction program by itself or with little help from the national government.

He said the LGUs should show its capacity to formulate the rehabilitation program on its own, to implement it, and to monitor and report its progress to the concerned agencies.

He explained that “if the LGUs have the capacity to undertake the projects and this is going to be evaluated by the DPWH, like those for infrastructure, they will be allowed to implement the project.”

”Of course the idea is: the faster the national government resources get to the ground, the better,” he said.

Abad said the government is also putting up a website to be called “Open Reconstruction” that will show the amount of available funds, how these funds are being used and the progress of the projects.

This is similar to the one established for the donations for Typhoon Haiyan.

Abad said an inter-agency meeting will be held next week to discuss details of the proposed website. PNA


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