RENOWNED urban planner Architect Felino “Jun” Palafox on Friday warned of corruption that might hit government officials tasked with reconstructing the areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda.
Speaking at the weekly Balitaan sa Hotel Rembrandt forum, Palafox, a civilian volunteer to the reconstruction and rehabilitation body for Central Visayas said “corruption and climate change should be considered first as people tasked to help the region might be tempted to “pocket the money instead.”
“Government should, if it has so much funds from local and foreign donors, ensure that there will be no corruption in rehabilitating [the devastated areas],” he said.
He added that while the infrastructure part is government’s, “85 percent of it, is participated or carried out by the private sector which gives more sound and reliable infrastructure projects.”
In Makati and Muntinlupa, Palafox said if the government handed the infra projects to private sector, “they are in good hands with better results.”
He hinted that while corruption in the country had a P10 billion yearly take, “rehabilitation in Yolanda-hit areas will only take months to fill the pockets of corrupt officials.”
“Relocation alone will give more problems since it takes 32 signatures to start a project and another 12 signatures before a building permit could be issued,” Palafox said.
Jimbo Reverente, deputy executive director of the public-private partnership program of the government said “in their initial stage of trying to have a more transparent transaction with government projects suffered growth pains.”
“But we were able to implement alternative procurement to traditional one for lack of transparency,” hinting that they can be tapped by Rehabilitation Czar former Senator Ping Lacson to protect the rehabilitation projects in Central Visayas from corruption.
Palafox added that the “no build zone” must be strictly enforced to prevent similar (Yolanda-type) destruction and that the relocation homes for residents must have concrete roofs.
“We should apply incremental approach. Houses must not be less than 21 square meters so there will be rooms for the children, unlike the usual Filipino house of six to nine square meters,” he said.
Geologist Ric Javesola, formerly an official of the Department of Environment Natural Resources (DENR), said the areas ravaged in Tacloban and Leyte were covered in their 1982 study of wet lands.
“There is no way to reconstruct the areas in its present form,” Javesola said.
The San Jose Airport, he said, is “an active spit bane and natural receptor for big waves.”
“We should revisit Tacloban and Leyte in 1950s. They were really swamplands. It’s time to relocate,” he added.