ONLY P4-B OF P100-B YOLANDA FUNDS USED FOR REHAB

Only P4 billion of the P100 billion allotted by the government for the rehabilitation of Yolanda-hit areas in the 2014 budget has been released, Senator Francis Escudero bared Wednesday following a joint congressional inquiry. Escudero expressed frustration at the slow pace of rehabilitation efforts in the affected areas, saying the government agencies are not acting fast enough despite the huge budget. “For the first time, may binigay ang Kongreso na pondo. Ngayon nagbigay ang Kongreso ng pera, pero hindi naman ito ginagastos. Less than 10 percent ng pondo pa lamang ang nagagamit. Lahat ng government agencies naghihintay ng plano,” he told reporters at the sidelines of the hearing. The 2014 budget includes a P20-billion rehabilitation fund for areas devastated by the super typhoon and P80 billion in unprogrammed funds, to serve as “standby authority and ready authorization for spending for the foreign donations and grants for victims of typhoon Yolanda.” But Department of Budget Management Undersecretary Luz Cantor told members of Congress that the agency cannot release a huge chunk of the rehabilitation funds pending approval from the Office of the President. The President’s approval of the requests for the release of funds, in turn, depends on the completion of the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) report, which will be the basis for the rehabilitation master plan for the areas destroyed by Yolanda, the strongest storm to hit land. Karen Jimeno, communications director of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR), admitted in an earlier hearing that some government agencies have yet to submit their formal plans for affected areas. Some of the funds that the DBM has yet to disburse include P1 billion for the repair of 2,800 classrooms and P912 million for the construction of core shelter units. READ MORE...

ALSO: Lacson useless, say ‘Yolanda’ victims

A group composed of victims of Supertyphoon “Yolandať” in Eastern Visayas is urging rehabilitation czar Panfilo “Ping” Lacson to resign because he seemed to be more focused on the pork barrel scam instead of helping Yolanda victims get back on their feet.
Efleda Bautista, convenor of People Surge, said it has been more than six months since Yolanda devastated many parts of the Visayas but Lacson has so far not extended any assistance to typhoon victims. “He is useless,” she told the Inquirer in an interview.
The People Surge has been calling on the national government to give each victim P40,000 in cash to enable them to construct their houses and to scrap the no-build zone policy that prohibits residents from constructing their houses within 40 meters from the coastline. The group also wants the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to continue providing relief goods to typhoon victims. Lacson has been in the limelight lately, not for his job as Yolanda rehabilitation czar but for meddling in the pork barrel mess and providing an unsigned list of 11 senators and 66 congressmen who allegedly benefited from pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles. Bautista said the People Surge wants Lacson to resign as chair of the Presidential Assistance for Recovery and Rehabilitation, an office designated to oversee the rehabilitation of areas hit by Yolanda on Nov. 8, 2013, for being ineffective.
“He claimed that the municipal and city governments have not submitted their rehabilitation master plans. But as rehabilitation czar, he should not wait for these master plans. He should do the work,” Bautista said.
She said several local government units (LGUs) affected by Yolanda had already submitted their master plans to Lacson’s office but until now, these LGUs haven’t received anything.READ MORE...

Lacson eyes 90% completion of Yolanda rehab before Noy’s term ends

Presidential assistant on rehabilitation and recovery Panfilo Lacson aims to complete about 85 to 90 percent of the rehabilitation of areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda before the term of President Aquino ends in 2016. Lacson said construction activities in Eastern Visayas cities and towns damaged by Yolanda on Nov. 8, 2013 are expected to scale up next month based on the master plan to be submitted to the President. He said that based on the report of the Department of Trade and Industry, business activities have resumed in the storm-damaged areas. Lacson said the rehabilitation activities have been clustered into infrastructure, livelihood, resettlement and support. He said the heads of the clusters are now vetting the master plan for the rehabilitation in 171 local government units affected by the typhoon. He said after the President approves the master plan the line agencies like the Department of Education, Department of Public Works and Highways, and the Department of Health would implement the projects. Lacson said the major reconstruction would start by June as indicated in the master plan prepared on the post disaster needs assessment conducted by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). He said the National Housing Authority (NHA) would construct 214,000 housing units before Aquino’s term ends in 2016. For this year, Lacson said the NHA intends to construct 34,000 housing units in Yolanda-ravaged areas. He added that sufficient funds have been downloaded from the national government to line agencies for the reconstruction projects. “In fact, DBM (Department of Budget Management) has downloaded some of the budgets. About P4 billion has been released to the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government), of which P1.2 billion was allocated for the local government units for the rehabilitation of partially damaged municipal halls, public markets and public centers,” Lacson said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Gov’t has ‘Yolanda’ recovery report after all

The government’s Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) completed in March by the Office of Civil Defense is a detailed two-inch thick report put together by more than 500 people in a three-month period. On April 30, the PDNA was formally transmitted to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), which is in charge of the recovery and reconstruction plan post-Supertyphoon “Yolanda.” “The PDNA is like the raw material which serves as the basis for the rehabilitation plan. [The goal] to build back better is Neda’s call,” a well-placed government source told the Inquirer yesterday, requesting anonymity for lack of authority to speak to the media. The source showed the Inquirer the draft PDNA that was completed last March by the multi-agency team led by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, after Secretary Panfilo Lacson expressed his frustration over the government’s rehabilitation efforts in the Yolanda-stricken provinces. Duplication of data-- The draft indicated that some P106 billion would be needed for the reconstruction and recovery effort. But after a review of the document and a “duplication [of data] in some areas” was spotted, the amount was trimmed to P104.64 billion. The typhoon-affected areas included in the PDNA report were Tacloban City, Leyte, Eastern Samar, Southern Leyte, Samar, Biliran, Panay Island, northern Palawan and northern Cebu. The municipalities covered by the PDNA were within the 50-kilometer track of Yolanda which hit Central Visayas and nearby provinces on Nov. 8, packing maximum winds of 235 kilometers per hour. Yolanda (international name “Haiyan”) was the most powerful typhoon to ever make landfall. According to the PDNA, the total effect peso-wise of Yolanda amounted to some P130.4 billion, “with damage accounting for 71 percent and [opportunity] losses 29 percent.” READ MORE...

ALSO: Even without master plan, rehab of Yolanda-hit areas to start in June

Even without a master plan, the rehabilitation of Yolanda-hit areas may proceed starting June, according to former Senator Panfilo Lacson, the Aquino administration's “rehabilitation czar.”  However, Lacson, the presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery, said this is still subject to President Benigno Aquino III's approval. “Tapos na yung rehab plans ng mga probinsya. Kung aapruban ng Pangulo na by province 'yung approach namin, pwede na kaming mag-implement next month,” he said Monday during the weekly Kapihan sa Diamond Hotel forum. “Pero kung hindi 'yung maapruba at aantayin 'yung comprehensive master rehabilitation plan of all the 171 cities and municipalities, definitely, hindi makakapagsimula ng June,” he added. Aquino's decision on the provincial rehabilitation plan is expected this week, Lacson said. Lacson, however, said this does not mean that construction is not ongoing on the ground. “We must remember even without the master rehabilitation plan, may mga na-download na rin resources especially sa mga LGUs (local government units),” he said. READ MORE...

ALSO: DOLE eases wage hike exemption rules for calamity-hit businesses

The Department of Labor and Employment's National Wages and Productivity Commission has eased rules on wage hike exemptions for establishments heavily affected by calamities. Covered by the new rules are establishments that "sustained property damage of at least 50 percent and whose recovery will exceed one year," the DOLE said. "Natural and human-induced disasters affect business operations and results to establishments experiencing temporary difficulties due to financial losses which necessitate government to step in and extend urgent assistance. The NWPC amendments to the 2007 Rules on Exemption liberalize the process and requirements for calamity-affected enterprises to qualify for exemption," DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz (photo) said. Baldoz said the most important part of the amendment is the extension of the exemption period to one year. "If the damage to properties of the establishment is at least 50 percent, based on the assessment of a competent authority, and the period of recovery will exceed one year, the six-month period of exemption may be extended to one year," she said. The new rules are contained in Resolution No. 1 amending NWPC Guidelines No. 2 (2007), which spell out the rules on exemption from wage orders issued by Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Boards. READ MORE...

ALSO: House independent bloc eyes probe on use of Yolanda rehab funds

Members of the independent minority bloc at the House of Representatives may call for a congressionnal investigation on the handling of funds for the rehabilitation of Yolanda-hit areas. House independent minority leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said the inquiry seeks to determine the true status of the government's rehabilitation efforts for the affected areas. "We want to know exactly what has been accomplished so far by the national government... [like] how many shelters have been built and for how many survivors, how many remain homeless and what's causing the slow pace of construction work," he told reporters at a press briefing Monday. Romualdez said the independent minority bloc will ask the government agencies involved in rehabilitation efforts for inventories and audit reports on how foreign and local aid—both in cash and in kind—was used. READ MORE..

(ALSO) Palo Bishop: Lack of carpenters hindering Yolanda rehab work

A lack of carpenters may be hindering the rehabilitation work in areas hit by super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) six months ago, a Leyte-based archbishop said Friday. Palo Archbishop John Du said the shortage of skilled carpenters is so bad it is affecting the housing projects for Yolanda survivors. "Our problem now is manpower. There is a shortage of carpenters," he said in an article posted on the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines news site. However, Du said he is thankful to dioceses that sent carpenters to Leyte to help in the Church’s housing project. “I’m very thankful to the dioceses of Pagadian and Tagum and also the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro for the manpower for the repair and relocation [efforts],” he said. Figures from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council as of April 3 showed Yolanda left 6,293 people dead, 28,669 injured and 1,061 still missing. The NDRRMC said Yolanda affected 3,424,593 families or 16,078,181 people in 12,139 barangays in 44 provinces, 591 towns and 57 cities. It added Yolanda caused P39,821,497,852.17 in damages, including P19,559,379,136.11 in infrastructure and P20,262,118,716.06 in agriculture. Meanwhile, Du said his archdiocese donated seven hectares of land to be used as a housing site for residents displaced by Yolanda. He said the government will manage the three hectares while the Church and its partner non-government organizations will manage the other four. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.


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Only P4-B out of P100-B Yolanda funds used for rehabilitation


ESCUDERO,  Inquire file

MANILA, MAY 19, 2014 (GMA NEWS NETWORK) By XIANNE ARCANGEL- Only P4 billion of the P100 billion allotted by the government for the rehabilitation of Yolanda-hit areas in the 2014 budget has been released, Senator Francis Escudero bared Wednesday following a joint congressional inquiry.

Escudero expressed frustration at the slow pace of rehabilitation efforts in the affected areas, saying the government agencies are not acting fast enough despite the huge budget.

“For the first time, may binigay ang Kongreso na pondo. Ngayon nagbigay ang Kongreso ng pera, pero hindi naman ito ginagastos. Less than 10 percent ng pondo pa lamang ang nagagamit. Lahat ng government agencies naghihintay ng plano,” he told reporters at the sidelines of the hearing.

The 2014 budget includes a P20-billion rehabilitation fund for areas devastated by the super typhoon and P80 billion in unprogrammed funds, to serve as “standby authority and ready authorization for spending for the foreign donations and grants for victims of typhoon Yolanda.”

But Department of Budget Management Undersecretary Luz Cantor told members of Congress that the agency cannot release a huge chunk of the rehabilitation funds pending approval from the Office of the President.

The President’s approval of the requests for the release of funds, in turn, depends on the completion of the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) report, which will be the basis for the rehabilitation master plan for the areas destroyed by Yolanda, the strongest storm to hit land.

Karen Jimeno, communications director of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR), admitted in an earlier hearing that some government agencies have yet to submit their formal plans for affected areas.

Some of the funds that the DBM has yet to disburse include P1 billion for the repair of 2,800 classrooms and P912 million for the construction of core shelter units.

Whip department heads

Despite the slow progress of rehabilitation efforts, Escudero defended rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson from criticisms that he is not doing his job.

Lacson, a former senator, has been accused lately of being more preoccupied with the pork barrel scam than his task as rehabilitation czar.

“I think he’s focusing on his job. Hindi naman porke’t may ginagawa siyang iba ay hindi na niya ginagawa ang kanyang trabaho. The bulk of the job of performing rehabilitation tasks [lies] with the agencies. His (Lacson) job is coordinative,” Escudero said.

The senator urged Malacańang to reprimand Cabinet secretaries and other government officials, whom he blamed for causing the delay in the creation of the rehabilitation master plan, to remind them of its urgency.

“Dapat yata paluin ang mga [opisyal na] ito para umaksyon sila nang mas mabilis. The President should whip the department heads to remind them to respond to calls from Secretary Lacson’s office,” he said.

Bottom-up approach

For her part, Jimeno said OPARR has started work on the master rehabilitation plan despite the absence of inputs from the support services cluster headed by Budget Sec. Butch Abad and NEDA chief Arsenio Balisacan, and the livelihood cluster led by Trade Sec. Gregory Domingo.

The OPARR organized the agencies involved in Yolanda rehabilitation efforts into five clusters to better coordinate the submission of their respective action plans and programs, which will be consolidated to form part of the rehabilitation plan.

“We’ve started crafting the master rehabilitation plan to the extent na may portions na hindi dependent sa PDNA at sa [report] ng ibang government agencies. We’re utilizing the reports of those who submitted them already,” she said.

According to Jimeno, the master plan will also include inputs from local government units, which have submitted their own reports independent of the government agencies.

She said they have requested LGU officials to prepare their own reports in accordance with the “bottom-up” approach Lacson wants to implement in rehabilitating Yolanda-hit areas.

An LGU’s rehabilitation plan, once vetted and approved, will allow local officials to implement rehabilitation programs even if a government agency has yet to submit its report.

“The master plan is comprehensive because we’re taking submissions from the clusters and the LGUs. We can’t ignore any of their submissions,” Jimeno said.

The OPARR expects all the clusters to submit their reports by the end of May so it can come up with a cluster action plan in June.

Jimeno said the office aims to present its rehabilitation master plan to President Benigno Aquino III not later than June 30. —KBK, GMA News

FROM THE INQUIRER

Lacson useless, say ‘Yolanda’ victims Philippine Daily Inquirer 7:44 am | Saturday, May 17th, 2014


Former Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines—A group composed of victims of Supertyphoon “Yolandať” in Eastern Visayas is urging rehabilitation czar Panfilo “Ping” Lacson to resign because he seemed to be more focused on the pork barrel scam instead of helping Yolanda victims get back on their feet.

Efleda Bautista, convenor of People Surge, said it has been more than six months since Yolanda devastated many parts of the Visayas but Lacson has so far not extended any assistance to typhoon victims.

“He is useless,” she told the Inquirer in an interview.

The People Surge has been calling on the national government to give each victim P40,000 in cash to enable them to construct their houses and to scrap the no-build zone policy that prohibits residents from constructing their houses within 40 meters from the coastline.

The group also wants the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to continue providing relief goods to typhoon victims.

Lacson has been in the limelight lately, not for his job as Yolanda rehabilitation czar but for meddling in the pork barrel mess and providing an unsigned list of 11 senators and 66 congressmen who allegedly benefited from pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.

Bautista said the People Surge wants Lacson to resign as chair of the Presidential Assistance for Recovery and Rehabilitation, an office designated to oversee the rehabilitation of areas hit by Yolanda on Nov. 8, 2013, for being ineffective.

“He claimed that the municipal and city governments have not submitted their rehabilitation master plans. But as rehabilitation czar, he should not wait for these master plans. He should do the work,” Bautista said.

She said several local government units (LGUs) affected by Yolanda had already submitted their master plans to Lacson’s office but until now, these LGUs haven’t received anything.

“That is why these municipal governments have chosen to work with private groups, because they know they will be given immediate assistance, unlike our government which practically has given nothing to the victims,”ť Bautista said.

She also said the financial assistance extended by Interior Secretary Mar Roxas to mayors of Yolanda-hit areas like Tacloban would not benefit the typhoon victims themselves. Joey A. Gabieta, Inquirer Visayas, and Erika Sauler

FROM PHILSTAR

Lacson eyes 90% completion of Yolanda rehab before Noy’s term ends By Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 19, 2014 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - Presidential assistant on rehabilitation and recovery Panfilo Lacson aims to complete about 85 to 90 percent of the rehabilitation of areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda before the term of President Aquino ends in 2016.

Lacson said construction activities in Eastern Visayas cities and towns damaged by Yolanda on Nov. 8, 2013 are expected to scale up next month based on the master plan to be submitted to the President.

He said that based on the report of the Department of Trade and Industry, business activities have resumed in the storm-damaged areas.

Lacson said the rehabilitation activities have been clustered into infrastructure, livelihood, resettlement and support.

He said the heads of the clusters are now vetting the master plan for the rehabilitation in 171 local government units affected by the typhoon.

He said after the President approves the master plan the line agencies like the Department of Education, Department of Public Works and Highways, and the Department of Health would implement the projects.

Lacson said the major reconstruction would start by June as indicated in the master plan prepared on the post disaster needs assessment conducted by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

He said the National Housing Authority (NHA) would construct 214,000 housing units before Aquino’s term ends in 2016.

For this year, Lacson said the NHA intends to construct 34,000 housing units in Yolanda-ravaged areas.

He added that sufficient funds have been downloaded from the national government to line agencies for the reconstruction projects.

“In fact, DBM (Department of Budget Management) has downloaded some of the budgets. About P4 billion has been released to the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government), of which P1.2 billion was allocated for the local government units for the rehabilitation of partially damaged municipal halls, public markets and public centers,” Lacson said.

He added that the DBM also released P260 million for the reconstruction of police headquarters, jail facilities and fire stations.

The Department of Energy has also received some P4.8 billion for rehabilitation of power lines.

He said there are about P100-billion funds for the rehabilitation of Yolanda-hit areas.

Quoting Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, he said there are still some P60 billion in the form of grants and loans coming in plus the P20- billion fund Congress appropriated for typhoon-damaged areas.

“We decided to implement an out-of-the-box solution in Yolanda-damaged areas, which is the bottom up approach,” said Lacson, referring to the scheme where local government units recommended to the national government projects for their respective localities.

At the same time, Lacson also revealed that rallyists that were staging protest actions to denounce the alleged government inaction were not actually victims or survivors of Yolanda.

“The rallyists were from areas which were not hit by Yolanda,” he added.

He said that the President has anticipated the ban on implementation of projects during election period in 2016 by directing all the concerned agencies to speed up the rehabilitation.

He said an exemption from the election ban could be sought from the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

He admitted there was no accurate accounting of foreign aid but he is counting on the best practices of foreign countries and donors on their grants to the Yolanda victims.

Gov’t has ‘Yolanda’ recovery report after all By Nikko Dizon Philippine Daily Inquirer 8:59 am | Sunday, May 11th, 2014


AP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The government’s Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) completed in March by the Office of Civil Defense is a detailed two-inch thick report put together by more than 500 people in a three-month period.

On April 30, the PDNA was formally transmitted to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), which is in charge of the recovery and reconstruction plan post-Supertyphoon “Yolanda.”

“The PDNA is like the raw material which serves as the basis for the rehabilitation plan. [The goal] to build back better is Neda’s call,” a well-placed government source told the Inquirer yesterday, requesting anonymity for lack of authority to speak to the media.

The source showed the Inquirer the draft PDNA that was completed last March by the multi-agency team led by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, after Secretary Panfilo Lacson expressed his frustration over the government’s rehabilitation efforts in the Yolanda-stricken provinces.

Duplication of data

The draft indicated that some P106 billion would be needed for the reconstruction and recovery effort. But after a review of the document and a “duplication [of data] in some areas” was spotted, the amount was trimmed to P104.64 billion.

The typhoon-affected areas included in the PDNA report were Tacloban City, Leyte, Eastern Samar, Southern Leyte, Samar, Biliran, Panay Island, northern Palawan and northern Cebu.

The municipalities covered by the PDNA were within the 50-kilometer track of Yolanda which hit Central Visayas and nearby provinces on Nov. 8, packing maximum winds of 235 kilometers per hour. Yolanda (international name “Haiyan”) was the most powerful typhoon to ever make landfall.

According to the PDNA, the total effect peso-wise of Yolanda amounted to some P130.4 billion, “with damage accounting for 71 percent and [opportunity] losses 29 percent.”

Meanwhile, in Tacloban, residents still searching for missing loved ones may finally find closure six months after Yolanda devastated the city.

A team from the National Bureau of Investigation in Manila will conduct antemortem identifications of 2,255 bodies that remain unidentified.

Acting city administrator Jennylyn Manibay said the Tacloban government asked the NBI for help in identifying the victims.

“This is the least the city government can do to provide comfort and closure to the relatives who had lost their loved ones,” Manibay said.

DNA matching

Of the bodies that had yet to be unidentified, 2,243 were buried in a mass grave at Holy Cross Cemetery in Barangay Diit.

Relatives of the missing can go to the Balyuan Convention Center beginning May 19 to register. The taking of blood samples and dental swabs will be done alphabetically. The samples extraction will end on July 7.

Qualified to give samples are parents and children of victims.

The samples will be sent to the NBI office in Manila. Their DNA will be matched with the DNA taken from the bones and tissues of unidentified victims.

Dr. Charina Labrador, NBI Disaster Victims Identification chief, said she could not say how long it would take to complete the procedure.

She said the matching would be done free of charge. Under ordinary circumstances, DNA matching costs P20,000. With a report from Joey A. Gabieta, Inquirer Visayas

FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

Even without master plan, rehab of Yolanda-hit areas to start in June –Lacson By ROUCHELLE DINGLASAN, GMA NewsMay 12, 2014 2:55pm 137 17 3 168


Lacson: '...and then there were two'. Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery Panfilo Lacson revealed on Monday, May 12, that two Cabinet officials under the Aquino administration are included in the 'pork scam' list given to him by the camp of alleged mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles. Danny Pata

Even without a master plan, the rehabilitation of Yolanda-hit areas may proceed starting June, according to former Senator Panfilo Lacson, the Aquino administration's “rehabilitation czar.”

However, Lacson, the presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery, said this is still subject to President Benigno Aquino III's approval.

“Tapos na yung rehab plans ng mga probinsya. Kung aapruban ng Pangulo na by province 'yung approach namin, pwede na kaming mag-implement next month,” he said Monday during the weekly Kapihan sa Diamond Hotel forum.

“Pero kung hindi 'yung maapruba at aantayin 'yung comprehensive master rehabilitation plan of all the 171 cities and municipalities, definitely, hindi makakapagsimula ng June,” he added.

Aquino's decision on the provincial rehabilitation plan is expected this week, Lacson said.

Lacson, however, said this does not mean that construction is not ongoing on the ground.

“We must remember even without the master rehabilitation plan, may mga na-download na rin resources especially sa mga LGUs (local government units),” he said.

For instance, the Department of Interior and Local Government has provided funds for the construction of partially damaged of municipal halls and public markets.

“In spite of the limitations we have, inspite of the protocols and bureaucracies, mayroon pong nangyayari sa ngayon,” Lacson stressed.

Six months after Typhoon Yolanda, the government has yet to complete the master rehabilitation plan of areas affected by the super typhoon, which killed over 6,200 people and left thousands more homeless.

During the same press briefing, Lacson said they have stopped categorizing areas as "no-build zones," admitting it was only a "knee-jerk reaction."

After the super typhoon, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources tagged some areas in the city as "no-build zones" under the Philippine Water Code, which does not allow structures to be built 40 meters from the shoreline.

Now, the areas are being categorized as high-risk zone, controlled zone, and safe zone.

“In a practical point of view, kailangang magtayo ng mga structures [along the shoreline] pero kailangang lagyan ng mitigating measures,” Lacson said.

Lacson also said during the briefing that the two Cabinet officials who were allegedly derailing the rehabilitation efforts have now been working more closely with his office.

“I don't regret bringing that out. Ngayon, so far, maganda at mabilis po 'yung submissions and reaction," he said.

He cited that the Cabinet secretaries, which were also appointed as cluster heads of their respective divisions in the Yolanda rehabilitation, were in attendance during the presentation of Tacloban City's rehabilitation plan last weekend.

Lacson had expressed frustration over two Cabinet officials whom he said are hampering the rehabilitation efforts of the government. He did not mention any names. —KBK, GMA News

DOLE eases wage hike exemption rules for calamity-hit businesses May 10, 2014 7:48am 39 11 0 67 Tags: typhoon yolanda , Super Typhoon Yolanda


DOLE CHIEF ROSALINDA BALDOZ

The Department of Labor and Employment's National Wages and Productivity Commission has eased rules on wage hike exemptions for establishments heavily affected by calamities.

Covered by the new rules are establishments that "sustained property damage of at least 50 percent and whose recovery will exceed one year," the DOLE said.

"Natural and human-induced disasters affect business operations and results to establishments experiencing temporary difficulties due to financial losses which necessitate government to step in and extend urgent assistance. The NWPC amendments to the 2007 Rules on Exemption liberalize the process and requirements for calamity-affected enterprises to qualify for exemption," DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said.

Baldoz said the most important part of the amendment is the extension of the exemption period to one year.

"If the damage to properties of the establishment is at least 50 percent, based on the assessment of a competent authority, and the period of recovery will exceed one year, the six-month period of exemption may be extended to one year," she said.

The new rules are contained in Resolution No. 1 amending NWPC Guidelines No. 2 (2007), which spell out the rules on exemption from wage orders issued by Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Boards.

Under the new rules, such establishments may now claim for exemption for a longer period from compliance with wage increases and cost-of-living allowances granted by the regional wage boards.

Unanimously approving the resolution were NWPC Board members Ciriaco Lagunzad III (chairman-designate); National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Arsenio Balisacan (vice-chairman); Cedric Bagtas and David Diwa Jr. (labor sector representatives); Francisco Floro and Eduardo Rondain (employer sector representatives); and NWPC Executive Director Maria Criselda Sy.

The resolution takes effect 15 days after publication in a newspaper of general circulation.

Changes

In the resolution, the NWPC Board expanded the concepts of "calamity," "hazard," and "disaster" to include both natural and human-induced.

Human-inducted calamities may include economic sabotage, financial crisis, rebellion, and war.

Regional wage boards are to include in their wage orders a provision that "in case of a calamity, the Board may accept applications for exemption for establishments adversely affected by calamities, such as natural and/or human-induced disasters."

"The calamity must have occurred within six months prior to the effectivity of a wage order," the resolution added.

Exemption applications

The NWPC Board also allows regional wage boards to re-open the period for the filing of exemption applications if the calamity occurred after the expiration of the period for the filing of an exemption application.

But applicant-establishments need to submit a certification that a general assembly to explain to its workers its intent to file an application for exemption has been conducted prior to the filing of the application.

They should also have an undertaking to conduct another general assembly to inform the workers of the decision of the RTWPB on its application.

Meanwhile, documentary requirements are simplified as the resolution allows a certification by the barangay and photos of the damaged property or properties to be submitted instead of audited financial statements. — Joel Locsin /LBG, GMA News

House independent bloc eyes probe on use of Yolanda rehab funds May 12, 2014 3:33pm 59 6 0 72 Tags: typhoon yolanda


PHOTO COURTESY OF THE MANILA STANDARD: Filing. Independent Minority Bloc leader and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez holds up copies of a House Resolution and a House Bill filed by his group seeking to create the Visayas Earthquake Assistance And Development Commission. Looking on are Reps. Lito Atienza (right) and Jonathan Dela Cruz. Ver S. Noveno

Members of the independent minority bloc at the House of Representatives may call for a congressionnal investigation on the handling of funds for the rehabilitation of Yolanda-hit areas.

House independent minority leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said the inquiry seeks to determine the true status of the government's rehabilitation efforts for the affected areas.

"We want to know exactly what has been accomplished so far by the national government... [like] how many shelters have been built and for how many survivors, how many remain homeless and what's causing the slow pace of construction work," he told reporters at a press briefing Monday.

Romualdez said the independent minority bloc will ask the government agencies involved in rehabilitation efforts for inventories and audit reports on how foreign and local aid—both in cash and in kind—was used.

“Six months after 'Yolanda,' we have not yet seen or heard of any breakdown on where the money and the goods went,” he said.

“We [and] the public have yet to see convincing documentary proofs of how the money has been spent so far,” Romualdez added.

Last week, Karen Jimeno, communications director of former Senator Panfilo Lacson, the presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery, admitted at a joint congressional inquiry that the government has yet to come up with a master plan to rehabilitate areas hit by Yolanda.

The super typhoon, which barreled through central Philippines in November 2013, left over 6,200 dead based on official government records. It also damaged an estimated P39 billion worth of property. —Xianne Arcangel/KBK, GMA News

Bishop: Lack of carpenters hindering Yolanda rehab work May 10, 2014 7:30am 152 7 0 179 Tags: typhoon yolanda


Archbishop John Du (left) and Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, president of Catholic Relief Services check damage to the cathedral in Palo, Nov. 17, 2013. PHOTO FROM CBCP FILE

A lack of carpenters may be hindering the rehabilitation work in areas hit by super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) six months ago, a Leyte-based archbishop said Friday.

Palo Archbishop John Du said the shortage of skilled carpenters is so bad it is affecting the housing projects for Yolanda survivors.

"Our problem now is manpower. There is a shortage of carpenters," he said in an article posted on the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines news site.

However, Du said he is thankful to dioceses that sent carpenters to Leyte to help in the Church’s housing project.

“I’m very thankful to the dioceses of Pagadian and Tagum and also the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro for the manpower for the repair and relocation [efforts],” he said.

Figures from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council as of April 3 showed Yolanda left 6,293 people dead, 28,669 injured and 1,061 still missing.

The NDRRMC said Yolanda affected 3,424,593 families or 16,078,181 people in 12,139 barangays in 44 provinces, 591 towns and 57 cities.

It added Yolanda caused P39,821,497,852.17 in damages, including P19,559,379,136.11 in infrastructure and P20,262,118,716.06 in agriculture.

Meanwhile, Du said his archdiocese donated seven hectares of land to be used as a housing site for residents displaced by Yolanda.

He said the government will manage the three hectares while the Church and its partner non-government organizations will manage the other four. — Joel Locsin /LBG, GMA News


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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