Check your facts, Ping tells Yolanda rehab critics

By Lalaine Jimenea, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 23 2014 04:57 AM | Updated as of May 23 2014 12:57 PM

LEYTE - Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery Panfilo Lacson yesterday urged critics of the government’s rehabilitation efforts to check their facts since his office has more than 2,000 projects to rebuild areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda.

Lacson said there are 1,407 projects sponsored by the private sector and 646 others funded by the government that are either ongoing or have been completed.

He said some P10.7 billion is needed to implement Yolanda recovery plans, of which P6.526 billion has gone to projects that are still being implemented or have been finished.

Instead of criticizing the government, Lacson said the critics should emulate two US-based siblings aged 10 and 11 with roots in Tanauan, Leyte who sold bracelets to raise funds for their parents’ hometown.

The siblings, according to Lacson, have exceeded their expectations and have donated $100,000 to build three classrooms in Tanauan.

Lacson was apparently alluding to the members of People’s Surge, a movement headed by a nun and reportedly backed by left-leaning personalities, which is asking the government to give them P40,000 each to rebuild their homes and their livelihood.

He said it would be easy for the government to just give in to their demand but added that this is not the right way.

He admitted that government rehabilitation efforts seemed slow to some “because we want to do it the right way.”

He said the government could not just help people rebuild their homes without proper planning, adding that the idea is to keep them safe from future disasters.

Lacson said they are not only taking into consideration storm surges or tsunamis before building relocation sites that could be threatened by landslides or soil liquefaction, but are also closely studying designs to make sturdy structures that could withstand the next strong typhoon.

Lacson said his office is setting up satellite offices in key areas in Eastern Visayas that were devastated by Yolanda.

Opening soon is a satellite office in Tacloban City where a donor offered a building made of pre-fabricated materials that could be put up on a property provided by the Leyte provincial government.

Meanwhile, the American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines Inc. (AmCham) turned over yesterday some 30 motorized boats to fisherfolk in four towns.

AmCham Philippines president Rhick Jennings and executive director Ebb Hinchliffe gave the boats to fishermen in Tolosa, Palo, Dulag, and Tanauan towns.

The simple turnover ceremony in Tolosa was witnessed by Lacson, Leyte fourth district Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez, and Mayors Remedios Petilla of Palo, Pel Tecson of Tanauan, Sia Que of Dulag, and Erwin Ocaña of Tolosa. Vice Gov. Carlo Loreto represented Gov. Leopoldo Dominic Petilla.

Hinchliffe said the boats, dubbed “red, white and blue boats” to highlight the US national colors, were conceptualized by their former director Rob Sears just days after Yolanda hit the country.

Gomez herself launched a fund drive to donate motorboats to local fishermen and she has so far distributed 130 boats.

Lacson thanked AmCham and its donors, saying the world’s response to the Yolanda devastation was touching.

Ocaña expressed gratitude to AmCham for the boats and also made special mention of Quezon Power Philippines Inc., which paid for the transport of the boats, and Monarch, which donated a payloader through the International Rural Development, a non-government organization.

The donors of the boats included Jennings, Arankada, SC Johnson & Son, Ambassador Charles Salmon, Fair Isaac (ASPAC) Lt., FICO, the US Chamber Foundation, Time Depot, Harte-Hanks Phils., New World Makati Hotel, Nu-Skin Enterprises, American Chamber Foundation, Quezon Power, Rapha Health Institute, Mary Kay Phils., lawyer Peter Yap, Manpower Group, FactSet, UHS Essential Health Phils., Del Monte Phils., and Del Monte Foundation.