On the second anniversary of the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that hit the Visayas, Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad announced that total amount of fund released to finance the rehabilitation and recovery of the provinces of Bohol and Cebu has reached P3.07 billion.
This figure includes P556.9 million or 30 percent of the estimated cost of building and facility reconstruction to fulfill the government’s commitment to “Build Back Better.”
“Building Back Better demands that we go beyond simply restoring the areas to their previous states; our goal is to improve the region’s overall quality of infrastructure as well as its resilience to future disasters. Thus, we’ve allocated additional funds for this purpose,” Abad said.
Abad said the national government will continue supporting the rehabilitation of infrastructure in the region.
“We acknowledge that disaster preparedness in this case involves two things: building infrastructure that withstands tremors and enhancing the capability of the LGU (local government unit) for economic recovery. This makes the case for continued support,” he said.
He added that ‘Build Back Better’ should be made a core part of preparedness plans of LGUs so that public facilities are ready and able to function when disasters strike.
“Reconstruction is very costly and time-consuming. If we prioritize Build Back Better now, we can focus more on addressing economic damage in the aftermath of a disaster. We will be able to promptly assist people who are pushed into poverty as a result of a disaster,” he said.
Of the P3.07 billion in releases so far, P2.46 billion has gone to Bohol and P24.6 million to Cebu for the reconstruction of buildings, public markets, civic centers, barangay facilities, bridges, and water systems.
The list of totally damaged buildings and facilities up for reconstruction underwent a thorough process of validation by the Rehabilitation and Recovery Office of Bohol, as well as the Department of Public Works and Highways Central Visayas office and the Department of Interior and Local Government.
Also, P917,000 was released soon after the disaster occurred to cover pre-restoration work of heritage structures in the region, P80 million went to the first phase of Bohol rehabilitation and recovery, while P500 million was released to the National Historical Commission (NHC) for restoration work in the two provinces.
Abad said the NHC will also receive P227.5 million in 2016 for this purpose.
“Since our initial releases for rehabilitation in May of 2014, we have been prepared to extend additional assistance to Cebu and Bohol. While any subsequent funding request would require careful study and the approval of the Office of the President, our main concern is that every peso we spend on reconstruction will reduce the vulnerabilities of our people in the Visayas,” Abad said.