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President Aquino convenes Cabinet Secretaries to speed up post-Yolanda rehabilitation program
Friday 10th of January 2014

MANILA, Jan. 10 -- President Benigno S. Aquino III convened on Thursday the members of the Cabinet to ensure that the post-‘Yolanda’ rehabilitation program is on track and to speed up its implementation, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma Jr. said.

Coloma said during the regular press briefing in Malacanang that the Cabinet Secretaries had updated the Chief Executive of the progress of the work of their respective departments.

Presidential Adviser for Rehabilitation and Recovery Secretary Panfilo Lacson had pointed out during the Cabinet meeting the need for speeding up the clearing of debris in Tacloban City, so that rebuilding efforts can proceed unimpeded, and to minimize citizen’s exposure to health and safety hazards, Coloma said.

"Environment Secretary (Ramon) Paje said that there are 30 shredders available for immediate shipment to the calamity area. This will be used to crush the debris for proper disposal and possible recycling. The possible redeployment of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority rescue battalion to Tacloban will also be considered," he said.

Coloma said the President directed Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas and Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson to implement the rebuilding program for destroyed local government facilities including town halls, public markets, and civic centers.

The rebuilding program which was approved last December is estimated to cost P4-billion pesos, Coloma said.

According to Singson 832 school sites have already been cleared for rebuilding of destroyed school buildings, Coloma said.

"The Department of Public Works and Highways is awaiting Japan International Cooperation Agency the proposed design for upgraded school facilities that will be disaster-resilient. He said that the design is being expected before the end of this month," Coloma stressed.

"Health Secretary (Enrique) Ona reported on efforts of the Department of Health to monitor and check the spread of “chikungunya,” a mosquito-borne disease resulting in body pains, but is considered less dangerous than dengue. Massive fogging operations are being conducted in ‘Yolanda’-affected areas," he said.

Coloma said Justice Secretary Leila de Lima presented to the Chief Executive the National Bureau of Investigation’s report on the identification and burial of typhoon victims in Tacloban City.

"This is for Tacloban City alone. A total of 2,249 bodies were recovered. Out of this number, 448 have been processed and buried in permanent burial sites, one of the memorial parks, while 1,801 have been buried in temporary burial sites in Barangay Vasper and at Sitio Suhi in Tacloban City—Sitio Suhi, Barangay San Isidro, Tacloban City—and will be exhumed for further identification processes," he said.

The President directed Department Budget and Management to provide additional funds to complete the cadaver identification and burial process at the soonest possible time.

"Science Secretary Mario Montejo reported that the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is nearing completion of simulation studies on effects of possible storm surge occurrences similar to those that were brought about by typhoon ‘Yolanda’," he said.

He said Montejo was directed by the President to submit the report by end of January. The DOST will also submit a report on simulation studies of flood-prone areas along the country’s 18 major river systems.

Coloma said Paje reported that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has completed the mapping of ‘Yolanda’-affected areas where the government would implement a 40-meter no-build zone.

The President directed the DENR and the DILG to coordinate with the Department of Tourism in addressing specific concerns pertaining to the rebuilding of tourism facilities along the coastlines such as the Jetty port in Palompon, Leyte, which generates significant tourism revenues, Coloma stressed.

"Secretary (Joseph Emilio) Abaya reported that Department of Transportation’s and Communications is awaiting submission of a JICA study by the end of this month on the renovation of Tacloban Airport which was completely destroyed by typhoon Yolanda.

The President directed the DBM to submit recommendations on the possibility of extending financial assistance to national government employees affected by typhoon ‘Yolanda’ similar to assistance given to those affected by typhoons Pablo and Sendong.

"Budget Secretary (Florencio) Abad also asked Cabinet members to submit recommendations on realignment of department and agency budgets for the purpose of addressing the effects of typhoon ‘Yolanda’ and other natural calamities that arose during the last quarter of the year and were not considered in the preparation of the 2014 budget," he said. ( (js)

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