President Aquino orders Cabinet to speed up restoration of economic and social conditions of areas affected by calamities

MANILA, Dec. 11 (PNA) — President Benigno S. Aquino III ordered the Cabinet to speed up the restoration of economic and social conditions of areas affected by calamities with the release of 238.6 million pesos to the National Housing Authority (NHA) for the construction of permanent housing units for affected families, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma Jr. said.

“The President directed the Cabinet Tuesday to fast-track the restoration of economic and social conditions of the affected areas following the ‘build back better’ principle, with emphasis on attaining a higher degree of disaster resilience,” Coloma said during the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Wednesday.

Coloma said the President emphasized the need to speed up the process of enabling the people in the affected areas to rebuild their homes and resume productive livelihood and employment activities in communities that are fortified and protected from the harsh impact of natural disasters.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad reported on Tuesday the release of P238.6 million to the NHA for the construction of permanent housing units for low and marginal-income families and informal settlers affected by typhoon Yolanda, Coloma said.

“The Cabinet focused anew on the critical immediate actions that are now being implemented to usher in the recovery phase while the relief phase is tapering off. The full plan will be presented next week in a forum with the country’s development partners,” Coloma said.

“Socioeconomic Planning Arsenio Balisacan presented National Economic and Development Authority’s framework for the ‘phased, cumulative response’ that defines the timelines for the ‘pathways to recovery.’ The NHA is gearing up for the ‘short-term action’ of providing permanent housing even while Department of Public Works and Highways is giving attention to the ‘critical immediate action,’ which is to build temporary shelters and bunkhouses,” he said.

During the briefing, the Communication Secretary presented the “Pathways to Recovery” chart that enumerates the salient aspects of “disaster impact,” “critical immediate actions” and “short and medium-term actions.”

He said Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II also presented to President Aquino a report on the local government unit basic recovery requirements that form an integral part of the critical immediate actions.

“This will cover 171 LGUs including 46 cities and 125 municipalities in the severely affected areas within a 50-kilometer radius of the path taken by typhoon Yolanda. Priority attention will be given to the reconstruction of municipal halls, public markets, and multi-purpose facilities that may also serve as temporary shelters and evacuation centers,” Coloma said.

Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo presented a business recovery plan, which includes the grant of loans to severely affected businesses, restoration of large businesses’ operations to pre-Yolanda levels, promotion of labor-intensive industries, and provision of duty-free access to the U.S. of local products from Yolanda-affected areas, Coloma said.

Coloma said the Department of Trade and Industry will also rebuild micro-distribution network, revive the “sari-sari” store economy and restart local cottage and small-and-medium enterprise supply chains.

“For his part, Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery Secretary Panfilo Lacson informed the President and the Cabinet that there is a very high degree of private sector interest in investing in the redevelopment of the typhoon-affected areas and that he will request for concrete project proposals from the private sector,” he said. (PNA)