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Government vows full resettlement of ‘Yolanda’ victims

Resettlement projects in Tacloban will be fully completed in a year or two, Malacañang promised on Wednesday as it marked the fifth anniversary of the onslaught of Super Typhoon “Yolanda,” even as a survivors’ group slammed President Rodrigo Duterte for “zero percent progress” in the government’s “bogus rehabilitation project.”

Government vows full resettlement of ‘Yolanda’ victims
REMEMBERING THE FORGOTTEN. Tingog Party-list 1st nominee and Leyte (1st District) Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez leads the candle lighting on the wooden crosses at the Yolanda Victims Memorial Circle in Tacloban City to commemorate the 5th anniversary of Super Typhoon ‘Yolanda.’ Ver Noveno
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the government is doing its best to resolve the delays in the completion of housing projects.

“There are certain constraints like we have to look for titles of land to build houses for them. We have to look for the very place where the people may need certain services that are not there,” he said.

“It will take a little time. But certainly, the government is doing its best,” he said.

In an earlier statement, the Palace official also said they are getting a grip on the five-year delay to speed up the rehabilitation efforts in Tacloban.

READ: ‘Yolanda’ survivors hit slow rehab, lack of services

“We are addressing issues that cause the delay, which include limited availability of titled lands for resettlement, slow processing, and issuance of permits and licenses for construction projects and absence of sustainable livelihood opportunities, among others,” he said.

He said the Special Assistant for Special Concerns, which oversees the rehabilitation of Yolanda-ravaged areas, has already used nearly P2 billion.

“A total of P146.156 billion was released to implementing national government agencies, government-owned-and-controlled corporations, and local government units. Half of the funds released were allotted for housing programs and ancillary basic utilities,” said Panelo, citing the latest reports as of Oct. 30.

He then echoed the National Housing Authority’s report that out of the 205,128 permanent housing targets for Yolanda, 100,709 have been completed.

“[From that] a total of 46,412 houses have already been occupied, while 54, 297 are now ready for occupancy,” Panelo said.

“Yolanda has taught us a hard lesson in public service, particularly on the need to respond to our people’s plight with more compassion and urgency. This is why the Duterte administration has worked harder to fast-track the recovery efforts for Yolanda survivors,” he said.

“We commend the exemplary resilience of our own people, which in the face of adversity, have remained steadfast,” he added.

In August 2017, President Duterte created an inter-agency task force solely committed to monitor rehabilitation and recovery projects in Yolanda-affected areas.

In November 2013, Yolanda (Haiyan) battered areas of the Visayas, killing thousands and causing extensive damage.

Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt-Romualdez on Thursday expressed her gratitude to the first responders, including President Rodrigo Duterte, who was still the mayor of Davao, for showing compassion for Tacloban residents immediately after Yolanda.

“We thank the...volunteers especially President Duterte who was then the Davao City mayor for coming in Yolanda-hit areas and help us,” said Romualdez, the chairperson of the House committee on accounts.

“Thank you for the selflessness of all volunteers and organizations that took part and contributed in the recovery and rehabilitation efforts of the communities affected by the typhoon.”

But in Tacloban City, 3,000 members of People Surge, a broad coalition of Yolanda survivors, took to the streets, calling President Duterte “inutile” in finding solutions to the same problems faced by his predecessor, President Benigno Aquino III.

Efleda Bautista, the president of People Surge, said that the past five years since Yolanda hit Eastern Visayas “was supposed to be enough for the recovery and rehabilitation phase of the region.”

Bautista said they marked the Yolanda rehabilitation under President Duterte as “slow-paced, segmented and anti-people.”

“We are the Yolanda survivors and we are ready to surge,” she said. 

“There is a zero percent progress in the government’s bogus Yolanda rehabilitation project,” she added.

“The project is only aimed at attracting investors and creating businesses profiteering from the people’s vulnerability to disasters,” said Bautista, whose group also called Aquino “inutile” over his Build Back Better program.

She said that Yolanda housing project in the region “remains incomplete while those who have relocated still suffer from the lack of basic utilities and livelihood.”

Aside from assailing the “bungled” rehabilitation in the region, Bautista also slammed the increasing prices of commodities, particularly the rice, saying this “is a result of the government’s neglect over the agriculture sector, most affected in times of disasters.”

“Being the country’s second poorest region, we are the most affected by the TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) Law implementation and this is worsened by the fact that the government is just turning a blind eye on the state of the disaster survivors,” she said.

Earlier, Special Assistant to the President Christopher Go maintained that the recovery is “fast” in Tacloban and Leyte.

Go added that Duterte is “always thinking about the betterment of the Filipino people.”

Go recalled how Duterte rushed to in Tacloban to deliver immediate help to the Yolanda victims and ordered for the continuation of the rehabilitation during his administration.

In a speech in Tacloban City on Nov. 7, he said that housing “is now 80 percent complete” in the different resettlement sites at the northern part of Tacloban.

These resettlement sites also have an electric connection while its water system is undergoing the bidding process, Go said.

He also highlighted the 27.3-kilometer tide embankment project under Duterte, which aims to protect some 30,800 houses and infrastructures in Tacloban-Palo-Tanauan areas from similar storm surge in the future.

Meanwhile, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, who attended the 5th commemorative program in Tacloban, said that the issues surrounding Yolanda have to be solved.

“From unidentified bodies to housing to coconut industry. I think Yolanda and entire nightmare that ensued has to be resolved,” she told reporters.

She questioned if the government had indeed “built back better,” pointing to “real gaps in infrastructure and the development of agriculture.”

Senator Loren Legarda on Thursday renewed her call for communities to heighten resilience to disasters.

“Long before Yolanda and more so after, I have knocked on the doors of local government units urging them to implement our environmental laws to build resilience and reduce disaster risks.

Disaster preparedness is one of the seven core areas of governance in building sustainably progressive and inclusive communities,” said Legarda.

The Senator said that there have been improvements through the years, particularly in the issuance of weather advisories and early warnings and enforcement of early evacuation, but more needs to be done.

“We need to continuously conduct massive education and information campaigns on disaster preparedness so that communities do not remain complacent,” Legarda said.

She cited the need to ensure that in rebuilding communities, the country is not rebuilding the risks again. “We must reduce the risks and not create new risks,” she said. With Maricel V. Cruz and Macon Ramos-Araneta

Topics: Tacloban City , Rodrigo Duterte , Super Typhoon “Yolanda
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