MANILA, July 25, 2015—Just days ahead of his last State of the Nation Address (SONA), groups pushing for the rights of Yolanda survivors have expressed disappointment over what they see as the “sluggish implementation” of the typhoon Yolanda reconstruction program, stressing the need for President Benigno S. Aquino III (PNoy) to hasten its completion before he leaves Malacañang next year.
Meeting Friday, July 24, at a public forum dubbed the “State of Yolanda Reconstruction: the Aquino Legacy,” the various organizations involved in the rehabilitation of typhoon Yolanda survivors deplored the PNoy government’s allegedly slow delivery of assistance to victims of the super typhoon over year and a half after the storm’s onslaught.
“The delivery of reconstruction assistance continues to be riddled with infirmities, irregularities and reported misuse of public funds and people’s money while the majority of the people who bear the brunt of sufferings, not only remain poor, hungry and jobless,” details the “Portrait of the Reconstruction Initiatives in the Areas Affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda,” a study initiated by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP), NASSA/Caritas Philippines, and Focus on the Global South, and the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC).
The groups went on to point out the “dismal completion” of only 2,100 houses by the end of 2014, that is far below the targeted 205,128 shelters, and blames the backlog in the construction on the lack of the proper inventory of lands.
They also raised alarm on what appears to be the government’s “significant delays” in fund releases, which no less than the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR) itself admitted were a “cause for concern.”
Cause for concern
Citing reports, the groups said only Php 2.4 billion of the targeted Php 26 billion for social services was released in 2014, which is apart from the Php 13.6 billion issued for the resettlement of the required Php 75 billion; Php 2.4 billion only of the Php 26 billion for target social services; Php 9.8 billion of the Php 33 billion funds for livelihood; and Php 21.5 billion of the Php 35 billion budget for infrastructure.
“Again, this boils down to poor participation and lack of consultation with the people. Poor transparency and lack of accountability—no investigation of abuse and misuse of funds and Yolanda relief assistance,” they stressed.
NASSA/Caritas Philippines heads the Catholic Church’s largest three-year rehabilitation program for Yolanda survivors called REACHPhilippines, with a budget of P1.02 billion during the first two years of the implementation.
For its part, CCODP supports various programs for typhoon Yolanda survivors, among others, the construction of the Pope Francis Village, an in-city relocation site in Tacloban City. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)