Thursday, November 8, marks the 5th year since Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) devastated Eastern Visayas. Sen. Panfilo Lacson reiterated his frustration over the governments failure to release the funds promptly.
“A lot was accomplished, but no thanks to the government, but many thanks to the NGOs (nongovernment organizations) and private as well as business sector,” Lacson told reporters in a text message via Inquirer.
Yolanda, one of the most powerful cyclones ever recorded to hit the Philippines, left a trail of destruction in its wake, especially in hardest-hit Eastern Visayas.
Sen. Lacson, who was appointed by the Aquino administration in December 2013 to draft a comprehensive plan for rehabilitation and recovery efforts, said many of the projects were done with the help of non-government organizations and the business sector, but have little support from the government.
Lacson was to be the overall manager and coordinator of the rehabilitation, recovery and reconstruction efforts of government departments and agencies in the affected areas.
But he announced his resignation a year later; complaining about how the Department of Budget and Management, headed then by Secretary Florencio Abad, “released funds in piecemeal and trickles.”
With the great help of multinational agencies, non-government organizations, as well as the private and business sector, like the US Agency for International Development, United Nations Development Program, Japan International Cooperation Agency and World Bank, Lacson’s office crafted and put together an eight-volume, 8,000 page Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan (CRRP) with a P167-billion budgetary requirement.
“That document consisted of a detailed and elaborate description of the 5 Ws (what, why, where, when and how) in order to accomplish a build-back-better vision for the 171 cities and municipalities devastated by Yolanda, the senator said.
“Unfortunately, while the CRRP was approved by then President (Benigno) Aquino III, very little budget support was appropriated to help the typhoon victims in the affected areas,” Lacson said via GMA News.
“Most of the infrastructure projects like hospitals, housing units, school buildings etc. came from donations from the private and business sector,” he added.
“I can only remember an instance during the budget call when I called then Budget Secretary (Florencio) Abad’s attention to point out the absence of any item to fund the Yolanda rehab in spite of the approval by the President of the multi-year appropriations of P 167.8 billion. He then promised to correct the NEP (National Expenditure Program) by proposing a measly P1 billion,” he added.
Meanwhile, classes and work in public and private Schools and Government Offices were suspended on November 8 in Tacloban City in commemoration of the 5th Anniversary of Typhoon Yolanda.