PALO, Leyte: Rehabilitation of areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda almost a year later has not lifted off in the absence of a master plan for recovery due to a lack of qualified structural engineers and bureaucratic red tape in regulatory
The Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery, headed by Panfilo Lacson, submitted in August this year a rehabilitation plan that will cost the government P170 billion from 2014 to 2016.
But President Benigno Aquino 3rd is yet to sign the master plan for the recovery program, leaving some families in tent cities, bunkhouses and makeshift shelters in danger zones in Tacloban City, Leyte.
Aquino said he wants to know from the officials involved in the master plan “what is expected and when” programs and projects are to be completed.
Aquino, who was in Leyte on Monday to commemorate the Leyte Landing, admitted that the lack of structural engineers was one of the reasons for the delay in the rehabilitation of Yolanda-hit areas.
Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd and Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson had to hire engineers to help affected local government units assess damaged structures and prepare the program for reconstruction of projects.
“Ngayon, bago natin nalaman na wala sa kakayahan nila, medyo ilang buwan rin ang tumakbo. Tapos ‘yon nga, pagha-hire para mabigay ‘yung detalyadong plano kung paano nga ‘yung build back better. So, ang pangako sa akin, kung hindi ako nagkakamali, this week ibibigay na nila timeline at saka details. So, makita ko lang ‘yon, okay na ako doon [Now, before we knew what they were capable of, a few months had passed. Then, there was the hiring of engineers for us to be able to come up with detailed plans on how to build back better. So, I was promised, if I am not mistaken, they will give me the timeline and details this week. So, if I see the timeline and the details, they will be okay with me],” the President told reporters.
As of September 20, 2014, the Department of Budget and Management has released P40 billion for relief and rehabilitation programs and projects in areas hardest hit by the typhoon, leaving a balance of P30 billion for the 2014 rehabilitation and reconstruction budget, he said.
Of this, P20 billion is allocated as provision for 70,000 housing units identified by the National Housing Authority, P2.5 billion will go to livelihood programs, P2.5 billion to welfare programs and P5 billion for the repair of roads damaged by typhoons Glenda and Mario and future calamities.
The President said housing programs are still in place but that have been a series of hurdles, such as identifying safe and suitable lands and acquiring environmental permits.
He said the government targets to build 100,000 housing units in typhoon-affected areas in Regions 4B, 5, 6. 7, 8 and Caraga.
Aquino said 1,100 permanent houses will be turned over by next month.
The Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport in Tacloban City may have to be relocated either to Palo town or Santa Fe town because the location of the airport at present is prone to storm surges.
The relocation of the airport is based on a Japan International Cooperation Agency study.