By Azer N. Parrocha
MANILA, Feb. 24 (PNA) — Davao Oriental Gov. Corazon Malanyaon on Monday thanked President Benigno S. Aquino III for the national government’s efforts to address the needs of the provincial government for assistance to the victims of typhoon “Pablo” that struck the province in 2012.
The various kinds of assistance given by the national government included mobilizing machinery to address Davao residents’ urgent concerns.
Malanyaon said the Davao folk consider it a “great honor and privilege” to have Cateel chosen as one of the venues for this year’s commemorative celebration of the 1986 EDSA People Power revolt.
“The historical incident of EDSA was triggered by political upheavals, yet it has a striking similarity to the climate-related ‘Pablo’ incident our province had just experienced,” Malanyaon said.
“EDSA Revolution was a story of resiliency, of faith and hope, of rising from the rubbles; our ‘Building Back Better Davao Oriental’ is also a story of resilience, of faith and hope that we shall overcome, and of rising from the devastation of typhoon ‘Pablo’,” she added.
Malanyaon also cited to the President the forms of aid gained by her province from different national government agencies that helped them get back on their feet after being hit by “Pablo.”
One such aid is the creation of a special task force led by Secretary Rene Almendras to facilitate a smooth disaster response mechanism for all the affected areas.
“A one-year period with some disruptions seemed too short to regain some semblance of normalcy, and to heal from our painful ‘Pablo’ experience, yet we have done and achieved so much,” Malanyaon said.
“But all these would not have been possible without the support of the national government under the present leadership,” she added.
Malanyaon also cited the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) which managed to construct temporary shelters for homeless families and distributed cash assistance to those whose houses were damaged by the typhoon.
She also said that the DSWD also provided Davao Oriental with initial funds to be used in the construction of permanent shelters pegged at P70,000 per unit.
In addition, she said that the National Housing Authority acquired lands as well for its own housing projects for the province, which could provide shelter for 3,391 families.
Malanyaon said that two important bridges destroyed by “Pablo” — the San Jose and Mandurigao bridges in Caraga — were also immediately repaired through the quick response teams sent by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
The agency also restored access to the towns of Cateel, Boston, and Baganga, which were left isolated by “Pablo” at the time.
She also cited how the Department of Health (DOH) augmented the support received by Davao Oriental from international non-government organizations and other healthcare-related groups as it helped repair a number of barangay health stations, including the Cateel District Hospital.
Meanwhile, students in the affected towns are currently occupying new school buildings donated by the charity wings of different media networks and other donors from the private sector even as both the Department of Education and the DPWH still have to complete the construction of 570 new classrooms.
Malanyaon said that as over a year has passed since Pablo, debris-clearing activities by the Department of Interior and Local Government still continue in the province, for which she said she is grateful too.
She said that the Department of Agriculture also remains consistent with its support by distributing crops, livestock and the like to 8,000 farmers for their livelihood.
Meanwhile, Davao Oriental was declared insurgency-free by the Philippine Army four months after “Pablo” hit the municipalities of Cateel, Baganga, and Boston, making it easier for both the local and national governments to deliver basic services to affected residents.
Malanyaon cited that in climate change adaptation and disaster risk management, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, together with the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology under the Department of Science and Technology, assisted Davao Oriental in determining geohazard areas.
These, according to the governor, are now strongly observed in the establishment of resettlement sites, and in the updating of the local land use plans.
Malanyaon said that if there is one area that remains to be a concern for Davao Oriental until now, it would be power supply since 24 barangays or 57 percent of the province are still not re-energized.
She said that she hoped that the fund requested by the Davao Oriental Electric Cooperative from the National Electrification Administration and the Department of Energy would be granted soon.
The governor finally acknowledged the fact that more have to be done in order to translate the “build-back-better,” but said that having support from the national government enabled them to go a step further to progress. (PNA)