YOLANDA-HIT AREAS STILL NEED HELP—IBON
While rehabilitation efforts are very much needed in war-torn Marawi City, the Duterte administration should not consider reconstruction work in Yolanda-stricken areas to be over, research group Ibon Foundation said Saturday.
After declaring Marawi free of terrorists, the Philippine government has organized Task Force Bangon Marawi and declared that rehabilitation in the war-torn city will be better than in “Yolanda” areas—but four years since the super-typhoon hit southern Philippines, government response “remained slow-paced and its policies even counter-productive in the calamity-damaged Visayas communities,” the group said.
“While claiming to apply Yolanda response lessons in Marawi, the Duterte administration still has to carry out rehabilitation efforts in Eastern Visayas especially in the livelihood, housing and resettlement clusters,” IBON executive editor and research head Rosario Bella Guzman said.
Nearly four years after Typhoon Yolanda, only 16,846 housing units or only 30 percent have been completed out of 56,140 permanent houses targeted to be built in Yolanda-stricken areas in Eastern Visayas.
Moreover, out of the completed units only 12,763 have been given to Yolanda-stricken families. Still in progress are 11,957 units or 21.29 percent, according to data from the Region VIII National Economic and Development Authority.
“Major obstacles identified by the government were surmountable, if only government prioritized resettling the victims and rebuilding their lives and livelihoods,” Guzman said. “Instead, infrastructure was prioritized to immediately restore business activities.”
Out of the 86 resettlement sites, only five water supply projects have been completed and only 59 out of the 86 resettlement sites have electricity.
IBON likewise criticized the move by the Duterte administration to realign P5 billion in unused Typhoon Yolanda funds for Marawi rehabilitation, as the diversion of funds from unfinished reconstruction efforts in the Eastern Visayas indicates government neglect of rehabilitation work there.
“It gives the impression that the job has been done while in fact thousands of survivors are still without livelihoods and languish in substandard shelters and living conditions,” Guzman said.
Considered to be one of the strongest typhoons in world history, Yolanda ravaged the country affecting 12,122 barangays, 591 municipalities, and 57 cities in 44 provinces across nine Philippine regions—including the poorest—in November 2013.