Palace: Yolanda rehab not for Pope Francis' visit

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 10 2014 08:48 PM | Updated as of Jul 11 2014 04:48 AM

MANILA - Malacañang will not rush the rehabilitation of areas devastated by super typhoon "Yolanda" just for Pope Francis's January 2015 visit.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda reported that government is monitoring the progress of the rehabilitation work.

Lacierda said, just yesterday, rehabilitation chief Panfilo Lacson reported that some P40 million in substandard steel, some of which have found their way to the rehabilitation of Yolanda-ravaged areas in the Visayas, were seized in Cavite.

"So there's a sustained operation to make sure that we really build back better," he said.

"But, if you're suggesting that what we're doing right now is for show, no it's not. Secretary Ping Lacson has been on the ground working hard to ensure that the programs, the rehabilitation and reconstruction moves as it should be. And so there have been a number of movements in that respect.

"We're not going to do this because Pope Francis is coming here. We're going to do this because that is required from government to build back better; and you must remember the decision to visit the Philippines only came very recently. So that was not part of the equation when government were doing all these things," he added.

Lacierda said the reconstruction of houses in typhoon-hit areas is "not time-bound to the arrival of the Pope."

He conceded that rehabilitation may drag past the papal visit.

"It may extend beyond because we have several hundreds and thousands of people who were displaced, and so our obligation is to make sure that we will build back better homes. They are now in transition shelters. So, that's what we are providing them right now. So, regardless of whether the Pope is visiting us or not, the work of government goes on, the work of reconstruction goes on," he said.

Pope Francis intends to visit the areas devastated by Yolanda in January next year.