Thursday, January 22, 2015

Pope's Leyte visit should spur govt to fast-track Yolanda rehab -Angara

MANILA-Pope Francis’ visit to Leyte should spur government to “speed up and finish” the reconstruction of areas ravaged by the strongest typhoon in history, Sen. Sonny Angara stressed today.

“The Pope’s visit will all be for naught if it will not result in ending the misery of the victims of Yolanda,” Angara said.

“If the Pope’s visit has been hailed as inspiring, then it should inspire us all in completing the rehabilitation of lives and places wrecked by Yolanda. The best way to honor his visit is to accomplish the unfinished tasks," he pointed out.

“When the Pope said we should help the victims of Yolanda, it is not enough that we nod our heads in agreement. The correct response is through action, by transforming his words into deeds," Angara said.

“Having been personally been blessed by the Pope, I sincerely believe that the President's cabinet men have been energized and are now ready to hurdle bottlenecks that delay the delivery of assistance to Yolanda victims," the lawmaker emphasized.

He noted that “a raft of appropriations” has been authorized by Congress to sustain reconstruction work in Yolanda-hit areas, citing the 2015 national budget which earmarks P14 billion in Calamity Fund and P1 billion in Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Fund.

These are on top of regular agency funds lodged in departments like the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Agriculture which allocate funds for the Yolanda devastated places.

And before 2014 came to a close, Angara said Congress also passed the P22.5 billion 2014 supplemental budget which gave P8 billion to the National Housing Authority for the construction of 27,313 permanent homes for Yolanda victims.

The supplemental budget also funneled P2.1 billion to the Department of Social Welfare and Development for emergency shelter assistance in Yolanda hit areas.

Angara has urged concerned executive officials to cut the lag time from fund release to actual construction, further suggesting that agencies involved in rehabilitation work should accelerate the procurement and immediate implementation of the projects.

“Kung totoo nga na ang budget ay sya na ring nagsisilbing release document, wala nang dahilan para maantala pa ang ang pagsasakatuparan ng mga proyekto para sa mga biktima ng Yolanda," Angara said.

Yolanda has left 6,300 dead, 28,689 injured, 1,061 missing and destroyed 536,313 houses as it barreled through four central Philippine regions in November of 2013.

To rebuild these areas, the lead agency coordinating relief work led by former Sen. Ping Lacson has submitted to Malacanang a detailed reconstruction plan which will cost P172 billion to implement.

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