July 24, 2015
Advocacy groups gathered in a public forum entitled “State of Yolanda Reconstruction: the Aquino Legacy” on Friday to raise concern over the government’s alleged sluggish implementation of the Typhoon Yolanda reconstruction program as President Benigno Aquino III is set to deliver his last State of the Nation Address (SONA).
During the presentation of the study entitled “Portrait of the Reconstruction Initiatives in the Areas Affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda”, the groups composed of various organizations involved in the rehabilitation of Typhoon Yolanda survivors cited the Aquino government’s slow delivery of assistance to victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda after more than year and a half since the storm’s onslaught.
“The delivery of reconstruction assistance continue to be riddled with infirmities, irregularities and reported misuse of public funds and people’s money—while the majority of the people who bear the brunt of sufferings, not only remain poor, hungry and jobless,” the study said.
The groups particularly pointed out the dismal completion of only 2,100 houses by the end of 2014, which is still very way below the much needed and targeted 205,128 shelters. They said the backlog in the construction of shelters was attributed to the availability of suitable lands, which would have been easier if the government has a proper inventory of lands.
They also expressed alarm over the government’s prolonged significant delays in fund releases. Citing reports, the groups said that only P2.4 billion of the targeted P26 billion for social services was funded in 2014. This is apart from the P13.6 billion released for resettlement of the required P75 billion, P2.4 billion of the P26 billion for target social services, P9.8 billion of the P33 billion funds for livelihood, and P21.5 billion of the P35 billion budget for infrastructure.
“No less than the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR) itself admitted the delays in the implementation of target rehabilitation projects were a cause for concern,” the groups said in their report.
The groups likewise raised concern over the indebtedness incurred by the government as the “financial requirements of the rehabilitation have become the government’s pretext in accessing loan obligations.” So far, the country has a total of P126.2 billion debts when it contracted loans from multilateral financial institutions.
They also disclosed the government’s alleged misuse and misappropriation of Yolanda funds, citing as examples the sub-standard temporary shelters in Tacloban and the mangrove reforestation in Samar and Leyte.
“Again, this boils down to poor participation and lack of consultation with the people. Poor transparency and lack of accountability—no investigation of abuse and misuse of funds and Yolanda relief assistance,” they stressed.
The study was initiated by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP), NASSA/Caritas Philippines, Focus on the Global South, and the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), which are currently involved in various rehabilitation programs for Typhoon Yolanda.
NASSA/Caritas Philippines is currently heading the Catholic Church’s largest three-year rehabilitation program for Yolanda survivors called REACHPhilippines, with a budget of P1.02 billion during the first two years of the implementation.
The CCODP, on the other hand, supports various programs for Typhoon Yolanda survivors, one of which is the construction of the Pope Francis Village, an in-city relocation site in Tacloban City.
JING REY HENDERSON
Senior Communications Officer
(0905) 546-9977 / 525-1924