MANILA - A month after the onslaught of Typhoon Odette, Bohol remains in dire need of help even as COVID-19 cases climb in the province, its governor said Friday.
Bohol Gov. Arthur Yap said the homes of some 280,000 people were damaged during the typhoon and they are "just surviving on tarpaulin, shades, and recycled materials."
Rebuilding of homes is estimated to cost P4 billion to P8 billion.
"With COVID-19, we're still in this pandemic and you got the rains at this time of year and it’s cold. We're very conscious at this point in time we don’t want to add another layer of problems," he told ANC's Headstart.
Active COVID-19 cases in Bohol has risen to 616 from 12 last Dec. 16, Yap said.
He noted Bohol's budget this year is "not really going to get us far" as the province also needs to rebuild evacuation centers and other damaged infrastructure.
"One takeaway is we really have to build resiliency centers, hindi yung gym na inayos lang para magmukhang evacuation centers. We’re looking at independent standalone resiliency centers," he said.
"Every year, we get 22 to 27 tropical cyclones. Every 2 years we get a big howler, a big typhoon. The total damage has averaged P400 billion. We really need to make a decision to keep people out of danger zones and to build intelligently and have more adapt engineering styles for our construction (or) this sorry story will be replayed every year."
The province must also have "independent platforms for communications," the governor added.
"That's one of the things were going to do, is to arm every barangay with satellite phones," he said.
The province's power has not yet been fully restored as 11,000 electricity posts were downed by the typhoon, the governor said.
"Until that 11,000 posts are all repaired, it's useless that we can connect to Leyte. When you don’t have full restoration of power, even our ability to produce water is affected," he said.
Panglao Island, meantime, has continued to receive tourists as it "was not badly hit," Yap said.
The province accepts tourists who are fully-vaccinated and if they have yet to get a jab, they must present a confirmatory swab or RT-PCR test," he added.
"The first message we have to get out there is we’re open for business," he said.
"Our resorts in themselves must be...not only to enjoy for tourism but also life boats in times of emergency. If they can have standalone tower and communications and a source of water, resorts become resiliency centers for provinces."
Individuals who would like to donate for the province's rehabilitation may do so at international organizations such as United Nations-attached agencies, Yap said.
"Whatever funds we get we're concentrating on food, water and generators to get fundamentals going," he said.