by Carlos Maningat
The agency tasked to consolidate rehabilitation efforts in areas affected by super typhoon Yolanda in Eastern Visayas admitted on Wednesday that there is still no final rehabilitation master plan six months after the disaster.
The Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR) under former senator Panfilo Lacson said in a joint congressional hearing that they have yet to receive final rehabilitation plans from some agencies, including the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
OPARR communications director Karen Jimeno said the NDRRMC has only submitted an initial draft of the post-disaster needs assessment (PDNA).
Jimeno said they formed five clusters composed of different government agencies which will come up with their respective rehabilitation plans in the absence of NDRRMC’s rehab plan. But she said only the infrastructure cluster has submitted a final plan.
Senator Francis Escudero expressed frustration over OPARR’s slow response, saying “there is a lack of coordination among agencies.”
Rehabilitation and recovery czar Lacson meanwhile complained that two Cabinet secretaries are “uncooperative” and are causing delays in the government’d post-Yolanda response.
“There are some Cabinet officials who have not been cooperating, as if they do not care. They started out at two to three (Cabinet members) but now there’s only two of them,” Lacson said in an Interaksyon report, adding that the two would not respond to his official communications.
He however refused to name the two officials.
Despite the problems, Lacson expressed confidence that the government is on track in addressing the needs in Eastern Visayas.
“Walang malawakang kagutuman na nangyayari. Wala namang epidemya. Wala namang breakdown ng law and order,” Lacson he said in a report.
“Kung ibabase natin sa international experiences ng ibang countries: Katrina — fully recovered after eight years; Banda Aceh — fully recovered after eight years; Haiti — four years after has yet to see their road to recovery. Tayo, six months after, marami na pong nangyari doon sa ‘Yolanda’ avenue, and considering the vastness of the area and the extent of devastation ay mukhang hindi naman talaga nahuhuli, at tayo ay sinisikap pa nating mas madaliin pa,” he said in a separate report.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Tuesday said gaps in aid provision such as on shelter and livelihood must be addressed amid the progress made in post-disaster rehabilitation.
Recently, international aid agency Oxfam said the government should focus on creating jobs for thousands of Yolanda survivors.
The agency said in an abs-cbnews.com report that up to 200,000 survivors are at risk of worsening poverty because the government plans to relocate them without sufficient consideration as to how they will later earn a living.