MANILA, Philippines– Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said President Benigno Aquino III called for a Cabinet meeting yesterday morning to ensure that the post-Yolanda rehabilitation program was on track and to speed up its implementation.
During the meeting, Coloma said Panfilo Lacson, who is coordinating the government’s efforts, stressed the need to speed up the cleanup in Tacloban City, the hardest hit by the storm, so rebuilding efforts can proceed smoothly and exposure to health and safety hazards will be minimized.
Updates on administration’s rehabilitation efforts:
- Rebuilding of local gov’t structures and public spaces: Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson and Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas will implement the rebuilding program for destroyed local government facilities including public markets , town halls, and civic centers, which isis expected to cost P4 billion.
- Rebuilding tourism amenities: The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and will coordinate with the Department of Tourism in rebuilding tourism facilities along coastlines, which would help generate significant revenues. However, the DENR has completed the mapping of Yolanda-affected areas displaying a 40-meter no-build zone.
- Rebuilding of schools: Singson said 832 school sites have been cleared for rebuilding while the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is awaiting proposed designs from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for disaster-resilient schools, which are expected before the end of January.
- Rebuilding the Tacloban airport: The Department of Transportation and Communications is awaiting submission of a JICA study by end of the month to renovate the airport, which was completely destroyed by Yolanda.
- Aiding government employees: The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is studying the possibility of extending financial aid to national government employees affected by super typhoon Yolanda.
- Health concerns: The Department of Health (DOH) is monitoring the spread of a mosquito-borne disease called chikungunya, which causes body pains but is believed to be less dangerous than dengue. Meanwhile, fogging operations are ongoing.
- Identification and burial of bodies/Debris clean-up/: Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) reported 2,249 bodies were recovered in Tacloban City, 448 of which have been processed and buried in permanent burial sites. A total of 1,801 were buried in temporary sites and will be exhumed later for further identification. Additional funds will be provided to complete the cadaver identification and burial process. Meanwhile, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje said there are 30 shredders that will be shipped to calamity areas to crush debris for proper disposal and possible recycling.
- Improving storm preparation: The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is currently finishing simulation studies on the effects of possible storm surge occurrences similar to those brought by Yolanda, which is due before the end of the month.
Regarding the updates, Budget Secretary Butch Abad asked Cabinet members to submit recommendations on the realignment of department and agency budgets to address ‘Yolanda’ and other related issues during the last quarter of the year as not considered in the preparation of the 2014 budget.