DINKY SOLIMAN'S TACTIC HIT: TYPHOON VICTIMS DENOUNCE 'COERCION'

UNLIKE similar programs run by foreign agencies, the cash-for-work program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development was only able to help 16,000 Yolanda survivors for only 10 days and hundreds of thousands of survivors are still jobless, survivors said on Saturday. Worse, Benedictine nun Edita Eslopor said, DSWD Secretary Corazon Soliman has been “coercing” survivors to sign prepared testimonials praising the government and DSWD for its handling of the Yolanda crisis. “In some cases, some victims were even bribed by as much as P1,200 in exchange for their signatures, signifying satisfaction over services of DSWD,” said Eslopor, one of the convenors of the People Surge movement that was formed in the wake of the disaster. But Palace spokesman Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Aquino administration remains determined to carry out rebuilding and rehabilitation efforts in areas affected by Yolanda and appealed to all sectors to work together. Coloma defended Soliman in an interview with government-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan and said she has already been ready to discuss relief efforts in affected communities and has adopted a hands-on approach in helping survivors since the disaster struck.

ALSO: Govt has not lost its sense of urgency in 'Yolanda' rehab efforts - Palace

Malacanang assured on Saturday that the government has not lost its sense of urgency in pursuing rehabilitation efforts for the victims of typhoon “Yolanda” since it hit the Visayas in November 2013. “Hindi po nawawala ang sense of urgency ng ating pamahalaan,” Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio B. Coloma Jr. said in an interview on state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan. He said that implementing a rehabilitation program is not an easy task, especially as the destruction brought about by the typhoon affected at least 44 provinces in the country. “Napakalawak at napakalalim ng sakop ng nasalanta ng typhoon Yolanda,” Coloma said. “Hindi biro 'yung mga dapat gawin...” Coloma noted that the government is doing its best efforts to provide assistance to every single victim needing it and is determined to keep doing so until necessary.

ALSO: Typhoon-hit Tacloban recovers but challenges still ahead

Exactly four months after super-typhoon Haiyan (locally named Yolanda) struck the central Philippines on Nov. 8 last year, Tacloban City in the island province of Leyte, which was the worst-hit, is slowly inching toward normalcy. Packing winds of more than 300 kilometers an hour, Haiyan was the world's strongest typhoon to make a landfall in historic record. In Tacloban City, it was accompanied by a tsunami-like storm surge that flattened vast swathe of the city of some 250,000 people, killing and displacing thousands of residents. Today, traffic is now back to normal in the streets of Tacloban; most of the shops, banks and gas stations are open while in the markets, vendors are now selling vegetables, fish, poultry and other agricultural products. But some parts of the city are still in a mess. Tacloban's most pressing need is temporary or permanent shelter for 50,000 people whose homes were destroyed or are unsafe. About 1,000 still live in a stadium while others are in schools or tents. The Philippine government has set up hundreds of bunkhouses or temporary shelters but they are not enough. Thousands are still waiting to be given shelter. Four months after the disaster, some bodies of the victims are still recovered from the debris by the city authorities.

ALSO: To speed up rehab, Lacson wants reconstruction funds released directly to LGUs

Rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson is set to recommend the release of money from a reconstruction fund to local governments to speed up the reconstruction of municipal buildings and public markets in Yolanda-hit areas. Lacson, Presidential Assistant on Rehabilitation and Recovery, said that he wants the funds to be sent to the mayors “so they don't have to wait and [can] soon start the reconstruction themselves as long as they conform with the 'build back better' standards set by the national government.” He issued the statement Wednesday during the turn-over of a municipal building and public market in Balangiga, Eastern Samar. The structures were rebuilt through the efforts of an American firm. In an interview with GMA News Online Thursday, PARR spokesperson Karen Jimeno said government funds go through a process at the Department of Budget and Management which usually takes time. “He (Lacson) will recommend [to President Benigno Aquino III], as part of the duty of PARR, to speed up the process by giving the fund straight to the local government units. It will apply to those areas affected by Typhoon Yolanda,” she said. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said Lacson's recommendation, “in principle, is a good idea and is possible.” “What we need to ensure is that the LGU has the manpower, technical and logistical capacity to undertake the project. Simple tasks like the repair and rehabilitation of barangay health centers or local infrastructures like footpaths and communal irrigation systems can be undertaken by LGUs,” he said in a text message to GMA News Online. “What the LGUs also need to assure the national government [of] is that they will undertake this with transparency, accountability and the involvement of the communities they serve. In the event the LGUs lack certain capacities, they can also partner with the private sector,” Abad said. Malacanang earlier said at least P360 billion is needed to rehabilitate the areas affected by Yolanda, which devasted many parts of the central Philippines in November 2013.


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Dinky’s Tactics hit: Typhoon victims denounce ‘coercion’


DSWD Secretary Corazon Soliman has been “coercing” survivors to sign prepared testimonials praising the government and DSWD for its handling of the Yolanda crisis.

MANILA, MARCH 10, 2014 (MANILA STANDARD) By Rio N. Araja - UNLIKE similar programs run by foreign agencies, the cash-for-work program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development was only able to help 16,000 Yolanda survivors for only 10 days and hundreds of thousands of survivors are still jobless, survivors said on Saturday.

Worse, Benedictine nun Edita Eslopor said, DSWD Secretary Corazon Soliman has been “coercing” survivors to sign prepared testimonials praising the government and DSWD for its handling of the Yolanda crisis.

“In some cases, some victims were even bribed by as much as P1,200 in exchange for their signatures, signifying satisfaction over services of DSWD,” said Eslopor, one of the convenors of the People Surge movement that was formed in the wake of the disaster.

But Palace spokesman Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Aquino administration remains determined to carry out rebuilding and rehabilitation efforts in areas affected by Yolanda and appealed to all sectors to work together.

Coloma defended Soliman in an interview with government-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan and said she has already been ready to discuss relief efforts in affected communities and has adopted a hands-on approach in helping survivors since the disaster struck.

But Coloma noted that the people should also consider the magnitude of the fact that Yolanda affected 44 provinces and 171 municipalities and cities. Overall, there are some 17 million people devastated by the typhoon.

But Eslopor said Soliman was trying to project the image that victims are happy with how the government handled the Yolanda humanitarian crisis, but “how can the survivors be happy when even the government data from DSWD show otherwise?”

“People are suffering and dying out there, and here is Dinky Soliman waving papers saying everybody is happy. What exactly does she want, except to save her own skin and not the lives of the people?” said the nun during the Women’s Day protest outside Malacańang.

She said the DSWD must also be held accountable not only for lack of support to victims of Yolanda, but also to the victims of typhoons Pablo in December 2012 and Bohol earthquake in October 2013.

The People Surge movement said Soliman must stop using the Yolanda survivors to save her political career. “If Soliman cannot do it, she must resign,” Eslopor said.

Feminist activists, clad in black mourning clothes, also staged a march to the ancestral house of the President Benigno Simeon Aquino on Times Street in Barangay West Triangle, Quezon City to denounce government neglect of Yolanda victims.

Joanmey “Joms” Salvador, Gabriela secretary general, said the President is also culpable for the gross neglect of the “multitudes of disaster victims” in Leyte and for refusing to even receive the petition of the People Surge movement.

“As women in many other countries cite the gains in improved quality of life and march in joyful parades, women in the Philippines become even more impoverished and vulnerable to violence and sexual abuse,” Salvador said.

“Our militant marches are the kind of actions needed to push the government into action vis-a-vis the deterioration of women’s conditions under the brutal regime of the Aquino administration” she added.

Coloma Jr. said the Aquino administration remains determined to carry out rebuilding and rehabilitation efforts in areas affected by Yolanda and appealed to all sectors to work together.

Coloma said the Aquino administration has not lost its sense of urgency and will not waver in its rebuilding initiatives.

“We need heightened determination. We are also calling on everyone to help us. There should be cooperation between the national and local governments,” he said, adding that civic organizations and individuals who were not affected by the calamity should also help.

“We continue with an intense sense of urgency and the government remains open to anyone who may have suggestions or proposals how we can make our rehabilitation efforts better,” Coloma added.

FROM INTERAKSYON.COM

Govt has not lost its sense of urgency in 'Yolanda' rehab efforts - Palace By: Philippines News Agency March 9, 2014 1:00 AM InterAksyon.com


The online news portal of TV5 Malacanang assured on Saturday that the government has not lost its sense of urgency in pursuing rehabilitation efforts for the victims of typhoon 'Yolanda'ť since it hit the Visayas in November 2013.

MANILA, Philippines - Malacanang assured on Saturday that the government has not lost its sense of urgency in pursuing rehabilitation efforts for the victims of typhoon “Yolanda” since it hit the Visayas in November 2013.

“Hindi po nawawala ang sense of urgency ng ating pamahalaan,” Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio B. Coloma Jr. said in an interview on state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

He said that implementing a rehabilitation program is not an easy task, especially as the destruction brought about by the typhoon affected at least 44 provinces in the country.

“Napakalawak at napakalalim ng sakop ng nasalanta ng typhoon Yolanda,” Coloma said. “Hindi biro 'yung mga dapat gawin...”

Coloma noted that the government is doing its best efforts to provide assistance to every single victim needing it and is determined to keep doing so until necessary.

He also asked for more patience from the calamity victims and said that the government is ready to welcome comments and suggestions on how to further improve the distribution of assistance.

Furthermore, he urged the local government units, civic organizations and the citizens who have not been affected by calamities to be one with the national government’s efforts to build back better.

FROM PHILSTAR

Typhoon-hit Tacloban recovers but challenges still ahead(philstar.com) | Updated March 8, 2014 - 9:00pm 3 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - Exactly four months after super-typhoon Haiyan (locally named Yolanda) struck the central Philippines on Nov. 8 last year, Tacloban City in the island province of Leyte, which was the worst-hit, is slowly inching toward normalcy.

Packing winds of more than 300 kilometers an hour, Haiyan was the world's strongest typhoon to make a landfall in historic record.

In Tacloban City, it was accompanied by a tsunami-like storm surge that flattened vast swathe of the city of some 250,000 people, killing and displacing thousands of residents.

Today, traffic is now back to normal in the streets of Tacloban; most of the shops, banks and gas stations are open while in the markets, vendors are now selling vegetables, fish, poultry and other agricultural products.

But some parts of the city are still in a mess. Tacloban's most pressing need is temporary or permanent shelter for 50,000 people whose homes were destroyed or are unsafe. About 1,000 still live in a stadium while others are in schools or tents.

The Philippine government has set up hundreds of bunkhouses or temporary shelters but they are not enough. Thousands are still waiting to be given shelter.

Four months after the disaster, some bodies of the victims are still recovered from the debris by the city authorities.

The Philippine government said the death toll topped 6,200 with 1,785 others missing in the disaster.

Sixteen million Filipinos were affected by the super-typhoon in 44 provinces mostly in central Philippines.

Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez complained that aid from the national government was slow in coming to the city.

The government of Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, however, denied that there was delay in reconstructing the disaster-hit areas including Tacloban City.

A few weeks after the disaster, Aquino announced the appointment of former Senator Panfilo Lacson as "reconstruction czar" who is tasked to oversee the government's massive rehabilitation and reconstruction program.

Under the government plan, the Philippines will need a total of $8.17 billion for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the devastated areas. About $0.78 billion will be spent for critical immediate actions, $2.05 billion for short-term interventions throughout 2014, and the rest, about $5.34 billion, for needs from 2015 to 2017.

According to the country's economic planning agency, public spending for reconstruction in 2013 through 2014 stood at P125.1 billion ($2.85 billion). Total damage was initially estimated at P571.1 billion ($12.9 billion).

The World Bank has offered the Philippines almost $1 billion in aid, while the Manila-headquartered Asian Development Bank has pledged about $900 million loans and grants.

Among the countries that have pledged to finance the massive reconstruction efforts were the US, Britain, Australia, Japan and the European Union. The United Nations has also called for relief for the disaster-hit areas in the Philippines.

Soon after the Typhoon Haiyan struck, China sent its navy hospital ship, Peace Ark, to the Leyte Bay where hundreds of victims and survivors were treated. The Chinese Red Cross also set up some 160 temporary shelters in Tacloban City. Besides, The Chinese government emergency medical team put up a field hospital in Abuyog, Leyte, treating more than 2,000 local patients.

Analysts said that the massive public spending and the influx of donations from abroad could actually boost the country's economy.

Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan has said that despite last year's disaster the Philippine economy is still expected to accelerate from 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent this year.

Lacson has called on the private sector to lead in the rehabilitation efforts, saying that with the private sector, there will be less red tape.

FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK


REHAB CZAR PING LACSON

To speed up rehab, Lacson wants reconstruction funds released directly to LGUs By AMITA LEGASPI,GMA NewsFebruary 20, 2014 5:22pm 215 14 6 288

MANILA -Rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson is set to recommend the release of money from a reconstruction fund to local governments to speed up the reconstruction of municipal buildings and public markets in Yolanda-hit areas.

Lacson, Presidential Assistant on Rehabilitation and Recovery, said that he wants the funds to be sent to the mayors “so they don't have to wait and [can] soon start the reconstruction themselves as long as they conform with the 'build back better' standards set by the national government.”

He issued the statement Wednesday during the turn-over of a municipal building and public market in Balangiga, Eastern Samar. The structures were rebuilt through the efforts of an American firm.

In an interview with GMA News Online Thursday, PARR spokesperson Karen Jimeno said government funds go through a process at the Department of Budget and Management which usually takes time.

“He (Lacson) will recommend [to President Benigno Aquino III], as part of the duty of PARR, to speed up the process by giving the fund straight to the local government units. It will apply to those areas affected by Typhoon Yolanda,” she said.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said Lacson's recommendation, “in principle, is a good idea and is possible.”

“What we need to ensure is that the LGU has the manpower, technical and logistical capacity to undertake the project. Simple tasks like the repair and rehabilitation of barangay health centers or local infrastructures like footpaths and communal irrigation systems can be undertaken by LGUs,” he said in a text message to GMA News Online.

“What the LGUs also need to assure the national government [of] is that they will undertake this with transparency, accountability and the involvement of the communities they serve. In the event the LGUs lack certain capacities, they can also partner with the private sector,” Abad said.

Malacanang earlier said at least P360 billion is needed to rehabilitate the areas affected by Yolanda, which devasted many parts of the central Philippines in November 2013.

Aquino said they are focusing their attention on building homes or shelters in areas that are not vulnerable to storm surges and other natural disasters.

The reconstruction and rebuilding effort in the affected areas is expected to be finished by 2017.

During the event in Balangiga, Lacson assured the mayors of Eastern Samar that the national government will start reconstruction work once the rehabilitation plan is finalized.

He also lauded Balangiga Mayor Viscoy de Lira and the residents for their resourcefulness and initiative that led to the early completion and rehabilitation of the municipal building and public market which will be operational next week.

The reconstruction project was completed with the help of Peregrine Development International Inc and Global Gateway Development Corporation.

The US companies also donated water-purification systems to the residents and are rebuilding classrooms using their storm- and earthquake-proof engineering and design.

PDII president and chief executive officer Dennis Wright, who is married to a Filipina, said they are now planning the rehabilitation of the Balangiga town church. — JDS, GMA News


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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