President Benigno Aquino 3rd has “approved in principle” a P160-billion comprehensive plan for recovery and rehabilitation of areas and communities affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda, Malacañang said on Friday.
Citing a presentation made by rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said rehabilitation plans have been completed for the provinces of Leyte, Western Samar and Cebu as well as Tacloban City, Leyte’s capital.
“After a final review session within a week, each cluster will be asked to sign off so that full implementation will commence on all fronts upon the President’s approval [covering]resettlement, infrastructure, social services and livelihood,” Coloma told reporters in a news conference.
“President Aquino directed the Cabinet to act with an increased sense of urgency in finalizing the post-Yolanda rehabilitation plans, especially in view of the expected onset of the rainy season in June,” he said.
Coloma added that a total of P65 billion is immediately available from the 2013 and 2014 budgets, and the Department of Budget has released P32.2 billion.
Quoting Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, he said a further P80 billion available from concessional loans and grants given by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Japan Industrial Cooperation Agency.
Furthermore, according to Coloma, another P15 billion has been received from foreign governments out of the more than P34 billion in pledges and commitments, as reflected in the FAITH website.
Also approved by the President was the recommendation to allow local government units to realign downloaded funds for other rehabilitation projects, he said.
Based on the latest Post-Disaster Needs Assessment presented by Undersecretary Alexander Pama, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Coloma added that total needs were assessed at a total of P104.6 billion. This amount covers four regions, 11 provinces and Tacloban City.
Secretary General Cecilia Alba of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and National Housing Authority General Manager Chito Cruz, on one hand, reported that since March 2014, construction has begun on a total of 2,844 new permanent housing units, with another 5,760 units expected to be contracted by June.
A total of 214,367 new houses will be built until 2016 covering 1,301 hectares, Coloma said.
“Land acquisition and development are expected to accelerate after the President approved the allocation of funds for the acquisition of private lands through expropriation or direct purchase,” he added
Coloma, meanwhile, said the resettlement cluster will meet again within a week to thresh out a new policy using science-based multi-hazard maps to determine “safe, controlled and unsafe zones.”
“This will address the problems posed by the strict implementation of the ‘no-build’ zone policy, especially in coastal and tourist-oriented areas,” he added.
The President is set to convene another Cabinet meeting by end-May to get progress updates, as well as discuss specific contingency measures for the onset of the rainy season.