ALL the refugees displaced by super typhoon Yolanda have been moved out of tent cities and evacuation centers to temporary shelters, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman reported Wednesday, a claim that was immediately dismissed as a lie by a coalition of storm survivors.
“Maybe she has not visited San Jose [in Tacloban] yet,” said Efleda Bautista, leader of the People Surge coalition of Yolanda survivors, in a phone interview. “There are still survivors living in tents there.”
“We are survivors. We do not manufacture hocus pocus data. We are the victims, and yet they insult us with their lies. You cannot blame us for being angry because it’s already been a year,” she said.
Efleda was reacting to a Palace statement issued after a special Cabinet meeting on the aftermath of Yolanda, almost a year after the storm devastated Eastern Visayas and killed more than 7,000 people.
“There are no more survivors living in tents or in evacuation centers,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, after the meeting. “In as much as humanly possible, Secretary Soliman said, all survivors have been assisted in their transfer to temporary shelters.”
Coloma said based on the timeline for the implementation of the Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan, 30 percent of all the projects will be completed this year, 50 percent next year, and 20 percent in 2016.
The rehabilitation master plan, covers 171 cities and municipalities in 14 provinces and six regions, collectively known as the Yolanda corridor.
Earlier, President Benigno Aquino III ordered the creation of a one-stop shop for the resettlement of victims who lost their homes to the super typhoon.
Administrative Order No. 44 streamlined the issuance of permits, certifications, clearances and licenses for housing and resettlement projects in Yolanda-affected areas.
“The provision of safe shelter is a basic human need, thus it is imperative for the government to expedite the identification, construction and development of housing and resettlement sites for families who houses were damaged by typhoon Yolanda,” the President said in the order.
In an earlier interview, rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson said the CRRP covers the sectors of infrastructure at P35.1 billion, resettlement at P75.6 billion, livelihood at P33.6 billion, and social services at P26.4 billion.
Lacson said the public can expect a faster pace of implementation of all Yolanda rehabilitation activities now that the CRRP has been signed.
Lacson said the CRRP featured twin innovations of cluster framework and bottom-up approaches to facilitate and speed up rehabilitation and make it consultative, participatory, and all-inclusive.
The master plan incorporated the Reconstruction Assistance for Yolanda framework of the National Economic and Development Authority; the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment that was vetted by the Office of the Civil Defense; local rehabilitation plans submitted by affected local government units; and the cluster action plans approved by the Cabinet.
Red Cross and Red Crescent officials said one year after the storm, the lives of those affected by the destruction were slowly returning to normal.
“Recovery is well under way but there are still humanitarian needs on the ground and we are working across 400 communities (barangays) to ensure people get the support they need to rebuild their lives,” said Gwendolyn Pang, secretary of the Philippine Red Cross.
Since the super typhoon pummeled Eastern Visayas on Nov. 8, the PRC together with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent and the International Committee of the Red Cross have been on the ground supporting hundreds of communities.
Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies from around the world are also working across the country as part of the typhoon recovery effort.
More than 1.3 million people were provided with emergency relief in the aftermath and one year on, the Red Cross’s long term recovery plan is targeting some of the most vulnerable typhoon survivors.
Six million workers saw their livelihoods either wiped out or damaged by the disaster – of which 2.6 million were living on or below the poverty line before the typhoon.
Almost 6,100 houses have been rebuilt and in the next 15 months, 40,000 families will have received safer homes. More than 23,000 households have also received roofing sheets t repair their homes. A total of 192 classrooms have been repaired or rebuilt so far and rural health facilities are also being restored.
At least 30,000 households have so far received cash grants of up to $220 as part of the Philippine Red Cross’s three-year $360 million recovery plan which will support 500,000 people across Leyte, Samar, Cebu, Panay and Palawan islands.
A study by the IBON research group said eight of 10 Yolanda survivors were living on less than P34 a day.
With an estimated 6 million workers deprived of work, agricultural income in the affected areas have dropped 50 percent to 70 percent after Yolanda, IBON said.
In a survey of 1,094 respondens in six Eastern Visayas provinces, IBON found that eight of 10 families earn less than P5,000 a month, with most respondents belonging to families of five or more members.
Data from the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery shows that rebuilding infrastructure has also been very slow, IBON said, noting that only 213 classrooms had been repaired out of a target 19,648, and only 27 out of a targeted 132 public markets have been rebuilt. Only 64 kilometers out of a target of 431 kilometers of farm-to-market roads have been repaired, and only three out of 34 bridges have been restored.
The same slow pace was evident in the repair or construction of municipal halls, civic centers, flood control structures and ports, the research outfit said.
“The government’s response to the urgent needs of the Yolanda survivors is not only slow but glaringly inadequate,” IBON said.
But foreign relief workers have remarked on the determination of the survivors to quickly rebuild their lives, and not become reliant on aid.
“The resilience of the Filipino people is amazing, they are like phoenix birds,” said Camelia Marinescu, International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies chief in Tacloban.
Many foreign aid workers also praise the national and local governments’ efforts, as well as their capabilities.
“If this had happened in some other countries in the region, the recovery would certainly not be like this,” Peter Agnew, a senior official with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Tacloban, said.
But the national government’s plans have already fallen behind schedule, amid problems in finding new land that is safe and suitable for 205,000 new homes, and frustration is building at the speed of the reconstruction program.
“The pace is not very fast. It’s snail paced unfortunately,” Vangie Esperas, a councillor with the Tacloban government, said.
“Many of our brothers and sisters are still living in tents and some of them are in temporary shelters.” – With Ma. Jerrylyn B. Damas, AFP
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