Malacañang on Sunday dismissed claims that bureaucratic “red tape” continues to slow down government response to areas affected by super typhoon Yolanda.
In a radio interview, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. gave assurances that there will be no red tape and delays in allocation of funds and projects.
He said President Benigno Aquino 3rd met with his Cabinet before the start of the recently concluded World Economic Forum on East Asia and that they would meet again in the remaining days of May to discuss updates on the rehabilitation plan for typhoon-hit areas.
“There is no red tape in the plans,” Coloma noted, reacting to a statement of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. that the government is not acting fast enough on the plights of Yolanda victims.
“There are steps that are taken here, the assessment of the damage and these are all under the law,” he said.
Coloma stressed that the World Bank itself reported that the rehabilitation of the affected areas is on the right track.
“I would just like to say that the World Bank has said that the progress of the country after typhoon Yolanda has been very good,” he said.
The World Bank has been helping the country in its rehabilitation projects through the Rehabilitation Assistance on Yolanda.
“Kung meron pong mga tumutuligsa, baka po kinakailangang suriin muli nila ang batayan ng kanilang mga sinasabi [If there are any critics, they should look at sources of their claims],” Coloma said.
The sources of a youth network seem to be stakeholders in the academic sector in Tacloban City (capital of Leyte province), which is said to be the hardest-hit by Yolanda.
The group, Volunteers for Tulong Kabataan, is engaged in helping victims of natural and man-made disasters, and has been in Tacloban City for a summer volunteer program.
Its members said they had witnessed for themselves the dire state of several state colleges and universities in the province.
Also on Sunday, they decried the Aquino administration’s supposed inaction on rebuilding state universities and colleges destroyed by the super typhoon as resumption of classes draws closer.
Students of the University of the Philippines Visayas Tacloban College (UPVTC) and the University of the Philippines School of Health Sciences Leyte (UPSHS) are still struggling in uncomfortable, damaged and makeshift classrooms. They also lack equipment and facilities.
They quoted teachers as saying no budget is available to help solve problems on facilities and personnel.
Dr. Felidtio Tandinco, UPSHS college secretary, said their students are using bunkhouses donated by private organizations as their dorm. She added that they are planning to transfer the students to UPVTC student center to contain the spread of diseases. The bunkhouses reportedly become very hot on sunny days and wet when raining.
According to Sen. Pia Cayetano, chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture, about 26 state colleges and universities (SUCs) affected by Yolanda have not received their budget for rehabilitation.
The Department of Education said only 764 out of 2,172 classrooms destroyed by the typhoon were reconstructed.
The Volunteers for Tulong Kabataan called on the Aquino administration to immediately release the funds for reconstruction of state schools.