• Release of Yolanda rehabilitation budget urged

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    MUNICIPAL leaders from areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda on Friday lamented the slow response of the national government in releasing the budget for the rehabilitation efforts in their respective towns.

    During the seminar-workshop dubbed as “Leaders for Disaster Resilient Communities” at the Bayleaf Hotel in Intramuros, Manila, municipal mayors complained that the national government has required detailed reports on the typhoon’s damages despite their comprehensive monitoring and assessment.

    Mayor Maricor Remandaban of Tabango said it has been four months since Yolanda struck her municipality and the national government has yet to release the fund for rehabilitation.

    Remandaban said the national government is asking them to provide “detailed report” of the destruction before releasing the budget.

    “So far, wala pa kaming nare-receive. Ang ginagamit muna namin ay iyong mga nakukuha namin na galing sa aming budget plan [So far, we have not received from the national government fund. What we are using now is from our budget plan],” Remandaban explained.

    Tabango, which is a fourth class municipality in the province of Leyte, was also affected by Yolanda, which damaged 70 percent of agricultural products and more than 30 percent in the fisheries industry.

    Remandaban emphasized that the local government unit (LGU) in Tabango already complied with the necessary requirements and reports as requested by the national government for the release of the budget, but it seemed that the report was still not enough.

    Remandaban said the national government has surveyed the damaged areas and assessed the situation, and yet the fund was not released.

    “Ang dami naming sina-submit. Ang dami pa rin na hinihingi sa amin parang gusto nila detailed reports, ang dami pa nilang kailangan . . . ewan ko kung ano ang hinihingi nila na nag-submit na naman kami na parang hindi ko alam kailangan pa nila ng mga detalyadong reports. In fact, nakita na at na-assess nila kung ano naman talaga ang kailangan namin,” she said.

    She said that for restoration alone, Tabango needs around P15 million for construction of the public market, gym and municipal hall.

    Remandabana also clarified that the national government has already prepared the budget.

    The presence of national government in terms of providing relief goods to the people was felt, but not on the “rehabilitation phase” she said.

    Comparing the national government’s response to the international organizations, Remandaban applauded the international communities for the immediate response on the rehabilitation efforts in her town.

    “Actually yan nga ang sinasabi na talagang mabagal naunahan pa nga sila ng ibang mga organization like sa amin may tumutulong sa aming mga Japanese na ‘Quick Fix’ for health centers, pero naunahan pa sila ng mga private organizations na kasi ready na nandiyan humahanap na sila ng mga tao, um-order na sila ng mga materyales,” she said.

    “Kasi alam naman natin sa government natin bureaucratic maraming pinagdadaanan kaya natatagalan,” she added.

    Instead of waiting for the release of the national fund, Remandaban said that they are now using their local funds from their budget plan.

    Mayor Charry Tan of Babatngon echoed Remandaban’s sentiments, saying that the rehabilitation phase in her municipality has not started due to lack of funds.

    Tan heard her municipality will be receiving P1.8 million from the national government.

    She said that even if Ba–batngon was “slightly damaged” by the typhoon, P1.8 million would not be enough to finance the livelihood program in her municipality, citing around 60-percent damage in agriculture and fisheries products.

    “What I have heard from the regional director of the DILG [Department of Interior and Local Government] is that we will only receive 1.8 million. But then, I have heard from different mayors that they will receive 25 to 30 million. How about my town? It’s only 1.8 million, napakasakit,” Tan said.

    Babatngon, which is a third class municipality in Leyte, has 25 barangays and more than 30,000 residents. It was slightly damaged by the storm.

    Vice Mayor Alfredo Arquillano Jr. of Camotes Island in Cebu is also waiting for funds from the national government.

    “Sa national government wala pang gaanong [funds]although sa provincial level mayroon nang support na naibigay,” said Arquillano.

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