Use funds to hasten Yolanda rehab, Duterte gov’t urged

Photo from People Surge

Research group IBON echoed the call for government to expedite Yolanda rehabilitation as the typhoon survivors trooped to Manila to air their grievances. Government should make use of the billions of pesos in relief funds and resources to help millions of survivors who have for three years now been struggling to recover their homes and livelihoods, the group said.

Known to be one of the strongest storms in Philippine history, Yolanda caused widespread destruction. There were up to 19,000 dead or missing, 28,690 injured and 4,095,280 displaced. Some 16.1 million people were affected across six regions. Total cost of infrastructure and agriculture damages was estimated at about Php39.8 billion.

According to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), government allocation for Yolanda relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation amounted approximately to  Php144.4 billion as of June 2016. While 71% of this has been released, however, government agencies’ submissions indicate that only 53.4% has been disbursed. The overall weighted accomplishment or physical completion of projects funded by these releases was only 40%, while 27.7% are ongoing and 33% have not yet been started.

IBON noted that agencies tasked to facilitate survivors’ fundamental needs such as housing, food, livelihood and water received rehabilitation funds but had very low overall weighted accomplishment. The National Housing Authority (NHA) received the largest allocation amounting to Php39.2 billion, but the Department of Budget Management (DBM) reported that its overall weighted accomplishment was only 12.3%, with 45% ongoing and 42.6% not yet started.  The overall weighted accomplishment of the Department of Agriculture (DA), which received Php1.2 billion, was only 14.1%, with 11.6% ongoing and 74.3% not yet started. The overall weighted accomplishment of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA), which received Php737 million, was only 2.9%, with 2.5% ongoing and 94.6% not yet started.

The Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD) and United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) have also reported Php1.17 billion in local and foreign donations and US$865 million in foreign funding, respectively, for Yolanda-stricken areas. But congruent to government agencies’ low overall weighted accomplishment, IBON research found communities of survivors who were still jobless or underemployed. Many are also still living in weak temporary shelters, in relocation sites with insufficient or no utilities and social services, or in calamity-prone areas that still lack evacuation centers.

The need to beef up its monitoring and accounting of Yolanda funds is urgent, IBON observed, as only the DSWD has in place a system of keeping track of its expenditures, while other departments have not shown any plans to do so. Moreover, the self-proclaimed pro-poor Duterte administration is challenged to fast-track Yolanda rehabilitation and reconstruction lest the survivors become poorer and hungrier than they already were even before the super-typhoon struck, said IBON.

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