Politics won't derail rehab plan: Lacson

By Ira Pedrasa, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Jul 29 2014 04:09 PM | Updated as of Jul 30 2014 12:09 AM

MANILA - Rehabilitation chief Panfilo Lacson said safety measures are in place to ensure that politics won’t deter the implementation of the P169.7 billion comprehensive rehabilitation plan for provinces devastated by disasters such as super typhoon Yolanda.

In an interview with radio dzMM, Lacson said: "We have recruited people – local government coordinators – to monitor the implementation of the program."

He said his office will also put up a website – Electronic Monitoring Platform, Accountability and Transparency Hub for Yolanda (EMPATHY) – to ensure there will be no leakages when funds will already be distributed to the local governments.

Lacson revealed the P169.7 billion comprehensive plan before President Benigno Aquino III announced this in his State of the Nation Address (SONA).

There, Aquino sought the backing of Congress to support the rehab plan that he said would require an enormous amount.

Aquino has so far approved the rehab plan for several areas, including Leyte, Samar, Cebu, Iloilo, and Eastern Samar.

Lacson plans to submit on August 1 the more comprehensive plan, which will cover more provinces.

“The comprehensive plan is worth P169.7 billion. Imagine if there is a leakage of just 1 percent. That already means a loss of P1.69 billion,” he said.

The comprehensive plan would cover all aspects of rehabilitation, including social services, livelihood, and resettlement.

The amount would cover some 205,128 permanent housing for victims who were displaced for being in unsafe zones.

"We already disregarded the 40-meter no-build zone from the shoreline. It’s impractical," he said.

He said they are now looking into "safe zones" and "controlled zones" where houses can still be built for as long as there are mitigation measures that need to be followed. He cited, for example, the need to build a permanent house that can withstand a 250 kilometer per hour winds.

"This is the biggest challenge so far. We have to look for suitable sites that can withstand several factors such as soil liquefaction, landslide, erosion, earthquakes," Lacson said.

He said there are also those who need not be transferred since their houses are already located in safe zones.

He said they would still need cash assistance for repairs.

"We committed P10,000 for those whose houses were partially damaged, and P30,000 for those whose houses were totally damaged. I already asked [Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman] to increase this to P30,000 and P70,000, respectively."