The local government units should take charge and be allowed to dispense the fund in the repair and rehabilitation efforts in areas battered by Super Typhoon Yolanda, opposition lawmakers said on Monday.
Reps. Ferdinand Romualdez of Leyte and Joselito Atienza of Buhay Hayaang Yumabong party-list made the call a day after the United Nations sounded the alarm that the need for durable shelter for millions of people whose homes were damaged or destroyed remains critical.
The United Nations made the statement more than 100 days since Yolanda—the strongest typhoon recorded in 2013—hammered Visayas provinces and left 6,000 people dead, 2,000 people missing, four million people displaced and billions worth of infrastructure destroyed.
“The national government should decentralize the Yolanda rehabilitation efforts and devolve the work to the local government units (LGUs) since they know better on the ground. These LGUs should be enabled to respond. The fund can also be downloaded to the local governments,” Romualdez, the brother of Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez, pointed out in a press conference.
“Anyway, these LGUs are accountable to the people and are subject to the scrutiny of the COA. There were instances when the rehabilitation efforts go slower when there are a lot of line agencies and national officials involved,” Romualdez added.
Romualdez, the nephew of former First Lady Imelda Marcos, then lamented that much is really needed to be done in Leyte since a lot of people, especially those who used to live near the sea shore, are still without homes.
Further, electricity is yet to be fully restored in Leyte since there are no connections available yet and power plants are yet to be functional.
“We understand that the tragedy is of epic proportions, that it brought catastrophic effects, that there will never be enough response and the response is not as quick as we wanted it to be. But it doesn’t mean we should rest,” Romualdez said.
Atienza, who used to be the Mayor of the Philippine capital Manila, backed up Romualdez’s stance.
“The national government should trust the LGUs to do their job so that the rehabilitation and rebuilding can go faster. There should be local autonomy. Let them handle the operations themselves instead of coursing every move to the national government or a rehabilitation czar,” Atienza quipped, referring to rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson.
“Otherwise, there will always be delays. After all, the local officials should know their needs better than anybody else,” Atienza added in closing. Llanesca T. Panti