Only P648 M of P24.8 B in Yolanda pledges released

By Rainier Allan Ronda, The Philippine Star

Posted at Mar 05 2014 09:19 AM | Updated as of Mar 05 2014 05:23 PM

MANILA - The Philippines has received around P24.8 billion in pledges for the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda but only P648 million of the amount has so far been converted into actual donations, presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery Panfilo Lacson said yesterday.

Lacson told reporters they are recruiting people who could help the government turn these pledges into actual donations.

“We are recruiting evangelists or lobbyists to reach out to those who pledged,” he said. “We are appealing to them to make good on their pledges.”

Lacson said the international assistance pledged for typhoon victims is entrusted to the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub or FAiTH that was put up by the government to ensure transparency in the use of foreign assistance.

“There is disparity of about P24 billion because what has been delivered so far is only P648 million,” he explained.

The former senator said foreign donors were satisfied with the government rehabilitation efforts in typhoon-stricken areas.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs cited the massive need for temporary shelters and permanent homes for typhoon victims in Tacloban.

The UN and its humanitarian partners are prioritizing shelter and livelihoods projects in areas devastated by Yolanda.

“The government, the UN and non-government organizations must continue to work together to do more so that the most vulnerable people are included in the recovery,” Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos said.

‘Bunkhouses not overpriced’

The bunkhouses built for typhoon victims in Eastern Visayas were not overpriced but contractors used substandard materials that could pose danger to occupants, the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) said yesterday.

CIDG director Chief Superintendent Benjamin Magalong said the result of their investigation showed that each bunkhouse, which can accommodate 25 families, cost P836,000 but the contractors used only around P500,000.

“There was no overpricing but the contractors used substandard materials in constructing the bunkhouses,” Magalong told reporters. Meanwhile, the Department of Budget and Management has turned over P1.71 billion to the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) to cover the rehabilitation costs for fishing communities struck by Yolanda.

Of the total amount, P905.7 million will be used for the construction of BFAR facilities in Regions 6, 7 and 8 (P468 million) and repair of the bureau’s monitor, control and surveillance patrol vessels (P32 million).

“In the aftermath of every calamity, affected communities need to reckon not just with the devastation of their homes and the loss of lives but also with the damage to their major sources of income. Part of the Aquino administration’s reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts for Yolanda-affected areas is the restoration of the communities’ primary means of livelihood,” said Budget Secretary Florencio Abad. – With Pia Lee-Brago, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Zinnia dela Peña