Mayors in Yolanda-affected North Cebu air out rehab concerns

Eight months after super typhoon Yolanda hit North Cebu, mayors of affected areas gathered to discuss rehabilitation updates, issues and concerns in their municipalities.

Also present were representatives from Task Force Paglig-on (TFP), Shelter Cluster and Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR).

Mayors aired out their frustrations in the implementation process of rehabilitation projects for their respective towns and city.

Most of the projects are to be implemented by different national agencies. However, these projects have not been started yet because of each agency’s varying and stringent policies the local government units (LGUs) have to comply.

Bogo City Mayor Celestino Martinez Jr. asked if it is possible to soften these stringent policies.

He expressed that some non-government organizations (NGOs) are already “in a way frustrated”. NGOs’ fund is already available but implementations cannot commence yet due to the tedious processes and policies, he said.

“(NGOs keep saying) the money is here, what’s keeping you from doing your share?” shared Martinez.

Tuburan Mayor Aljun Diamante appealed if it is possible to directly download funds to LGUs and allow them to implement their respective rehab projects.

“If to compare with DILG, they have no trust in the LGU. Kami na lang unta ang mag-implement sa projects. Download the funds to the municipality,” said Diamante.

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) released to LGUs financial assistance for the rehabilitation of partially-damaged municipal infrastructures in North Cebu last May.

Diamante also added that if possible, the financial assistance to be released intended for projects that have already been completed by the LGU be realigned with LGU funds.

Martinez also asked for a “clear-cut time frame and process” of the releasing of money for projects implementations.

“We kept on saying the money is ready but we don’t have a concrete schedule of the release,” he said.

He pointed out that LGUs had already spent their money to immediately address the needs of their respective municipalities.

“Mahurot na among kwarta, dili na unya mi kalihok (Our funds are about to be used up. By the time it’s depleted, we won’t be able to act) ,” he expressed.

However, Carmel Ulanday of TFP reported that Cebu’s Php 12.2-billion Rehabilitation Plan, together with plans of Leyte, Tacloban and Samar, has already been submitted to President Noynoy Aquino by the OPARR last June 30.

She added that OPARR did not wait for other provinces’ plans so as to immediately implement the plans of those who already submitted.

“According to Sec. (Panfilo) Lacson, the budget is expected to be released after three weeks,” she said.
OPARR Coordinator for Cebu Gena Buenconsejo assured mayors that their concerns will be raised in the OPARR Provincial Coordinators’ Orientation in Manila on July 21-22, 2014.
“I can give you answers hopefully in our next meeting,” she promised.

However, Diamante hoped that despite the many unanswered questions during the meeting, LGUs won’t grow tired waiting for national government’s assistance to the Yolanda-affected North Cebu