PNoy seeks Congress backing of disaster recovery plan

by Ira Pedrasa,

Posted at Jul 28 2014 05:53 PM | Updated as of Jul 29 2014 01:53 AM

MANILA - President Benigno Aquino III sought the support of Congress in the government’s Local Government Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan in order to spur economic growth in provinces affected by man-made and natural disasters.

In his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday afternoon, Aquino said he hopes the lawmakers will help in funding the plan because of the enormity of funds needed.

“Umaasa ako sa pakikiisa ng Kongreso dahil malaki ang halagang kailangan,” he said.

He noted the plan has been well thought of by the different clusters in the Cabinet, led by rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson.

The plan, signed this month, covers the provinces of Cebu, Iloilo, Leyte, among others.

Aquino’s appeal to Congress may be in response to the criticisms he received in using the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) sans the approval of lawmakers. In its decision, the Supreme Court warned the Executive against cross-border transfers in funding programs.

Aquino earlier said around P10 billion in DAP funds were used to finance the livelihood, resettlement, infrastructure, and social service needs of those affected by typhoon Pablo in 2013.

Aquino said the country has come a long way in recovering from disasters, including the strongest typhoon to hit land, Yolanda.

On Zamboanga siege disaster, the government said it has disbursed P3.5 billion to help in the recovery of those used as human shields by a breakaway group of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

He said permanent houses will be issued to residents beginning August this year. He said a total of 7,176 houses are expected to be put up by 2015.

He asked for understanding because of issues that have hampered the government from buying the lands where the houses will be put up.

On the earthquake that affected Cebu and Bohol, Aquino said the government has disbursed P3.583 billion. He said all roads and highways damaged during the earthquake have been fixed.

On typhoon Yolanda, Aquino said rehabilitation is already
underway. He said more than 200,000 jobs have been made available for the Yolanda victims.

Eight months after Yolanda struck, the United Nations has declared that the areas affected are on their way to recovery, he said. He said the US, on the other hand, took years before they achieved rehabilitation status in the wake of hurricane Katrina.

“Di pa tapos ang trabaho… Tuloy pa rin ang build back better,” Aquino said.