SURVIVORS of Typhoon Yolanda are bearing the brunt of “too much” politics that has been hampering rehabilitation efforts in severely hit areas in Eastern Visayas, an international relief agency said.
Carin van der Hor, country director of Plan International, on Friday said he has seen effects on communities of slow decision-making by government agencies.
Hor was echoing the sentiment of former senator and now Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery Panfilo Lacson, who had accused some Cabinet officials of derailing the rehabilitation efforts.
Hor acknowledged Lacson’s moves to cut red tape and speed up the process to rebuild the stricken communities.
She said her group has been meeting regularly with Lacson to voice out concerns of the communities.
Lacson’s communications director Karen Jimeno has said the government has not come up with a master plan to rehabilitate areas ravaged by the super typhoon.
Jimeno also said the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment report, on which the rehabilitation master plan will be based, is yet to be approved by President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
Hor said such delays make rehabilitation and recovery of areas hit by Yolanda harder and longer.
“We’ve come a very long way in relatively short time. But please don’t forget that there is a long road [to]recovery,” she added.
Alfredo Padernos, a survivor and broadcaster from Tacloban City, Leyte, said they are still receiving complaints from the affected communities.
“Some of them are complaining that they don’t receive relief goods and some were not included in the relocation program of the government,” Padernos added.
Meanwhile, David Sevcik of the European Commission also on Friday said they have been closely coordinating with the government to get survivors out of the danger zone.
Citing the onset of the typhoon season, Sevcik added that typhoon survivors should be transferred from no-build zones to safer areas.
But he conceded that relocating such a large number of people is a huge task, since they face security and land issues.
European Union (EU) Ambassador Guy Ledoux said the union will continue pouring in funds for rehabilitation and reconstruction for the next three to four years.
“The EU has a long-term program for the Philippines and part of the funds that we earmarked for the Philippines will be used for reconstruction in Yolanda-hit areas,” he
Ledoux said reconstruction does not mean only building houses but rebuilding institutions and infrastructure as well.
He added that “life is back” in Tacloban City as survivors have started living a normal life.
“I was surprised that for the first time, there was a music concert at the Tacloban Astrodome. This means that life is back in Tacloban,” Ledoux said.
Lacson has said he needed extra powers to get his job done. He may be getting what he wished for.
At a news briefing on Friday, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the former senator’s point was well taken and that Malacanang is inclined to follow his suggestions.
“There is readiness and openness to other alternative options or structures that may further hasten the process of rehabilitation,” Coloma added.
“That is a continuing work in progress and as they always say, the biggest room in this world is the room for improvement,” he said.
Lacson said he is hamstrung by uncooperative Cabinet secretaries and local government officials who ignore his directives.
“I am really frustrated. Because when I want to do something, I want it done right away.
But sometimes you can’t do it because it’s beyond my authority. That’s not within my authority to get things done the way I want [them]done because there is protocol. We follow international protocol and the law. And I am bound by MO [Memorandum Order] 62 that says in so many words my limits,” he added.
Lacson said the MO must be revised to give him the power to implement.
When asked if the Palace is open to amending or improving the MO to suit Lacson’s requirements, Coloma replied, “Well, we want to be in that biggest room [of improvement].”
According to him, he has no idea if Lacson had taken up his problem with aloof Cabinet officials with the President.
“I will ask Secretary Lacson about it,” he said.
Although Lacson did not name the two Cabinet officials, talks were rife that he was referring to Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd and Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, who are both Liberal Party (LP) members. The LP is headed by the President.