MANILA – Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara said on Thursday the successful visit of Pope Francis in Leyte should spur government to “speed up and finish” the reconstruction of areas ravaged by the strongest typhoon in history.
“The Pope’s visit will all be for naught if it will not result in ending the misery of the victims of typhoon 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.
“It is not enough that we only agreed when the Pope said the victims of Yolanda should be given assistance. The correct response is through action, by transforming his words into deeds,” Angara said.
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 PhP14 billion in Calamity Fund and PhP1 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,” he added.
Before 2014 came to a close, Angara said Congress also passed the PhP22.5 billion 2014 supplemental budget which gave PhP8 billion to the National Housing Authority for the construction of 27,313 permanent homes for Yolanda victims.
The supplemental budget also funneled PhP2.1 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.
Yolanda has left 6,300 people dead, 28,689 injured, 1,061 missing and destroyed 536,313 houses as it barreled through four central Philippine regions in November 2013.
To rebuild these areas, the lead agency coordinating relief work led by former Sen. Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson has submitted to Malacanang a detailed reconstruction plan which will cost PhP172 billion to implement.