GOVT URGED TO DISCLOSE YOLANDA CASUALTY FIGURES

MAY 31 --Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez yesterday urged the Aquino administration to update the government’s casualty count from Super Typhoon Yolanda to give closure to surviving relatives and “put the departed souls at peace.”  Romualdez, leader of the independent bloc in the House of Representatives, said bodies continued to turn up in Tacloban City and other areas hardest hit by Yolanda as recently as April as survivors try to rebuild their homes, and yet the government stopped its casualty count at 6,300 with over 1,000 people missing. He noted that those still missing months after Yolanda meant that the death toll has risen further. The lawmaker said it was understandable if the Aquino administration wants to portray progress after the disaster, but the very least it can do for the victims is to give them the dignity of recognizing their passing. “For the sake of closure for the survivors, to honor our dead, to pray for their souls, I cannot fathom why the administration refuses to acknowledge the actual number of casualties so their souls would be at peace,” he said. “We need to give those unacknowledged by the government the proper burial so we can pay our respects to our dead,” he added. Romualdez recalled that Malacañang attempted to downplay the casualty count by trying to peg the number at 2,500, but figures from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council showed otherwise, even as the latter has apparently also stopped counting the dead.THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

(ALSO) DepEd: Yolanda-hit schools in Region 6 not yet ready for students

MAY 31 --Schools hit by super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in Western Visayas are not yet ready for students in time for the opening of classes on June 2, the Department of Education said Friday. DepEd Western Visayas regional director Dr. Corazon Brown said this after superintendents in the region inspected several schools, Iloilo news site The Daily Guardian reported Saturday. Around 1.6 million pupils are expected to attend classes in public elementary and high schools in Western Visayas. These include 1.1 million elementary and 485,000 high school students, the report said. “Our superintendents went around for check and found some schools will use tents as makeshift classrooms,” she said. However, she said the delay in the construction is due to changes in plan to build stronger classrooms. For now, she said repairs of the first batch of schools in the rehabilitation project will start in two weeks to one month. Bidding has yet to start for the second batch. “Even if we are a bit delayed in the construction, we make sure that the buildings that we will be constructing are stronger. It will be a bit costly but it can withstand stronger typhoons and earthquakes,” she said. Despite this, Brown said all schools are expected to be ready for the opening of classes on Monday. Meanwhile, Brown said they expect the number of students to increase if they include late enrollees. The TDG report said the entire student population in Western Visayas, including those in private schools, could reach two million. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: Bishop asks gov't to hasten post-Yolanda rehab as Pope visits in January

MAY 30 --A Catholic bishop on Wednesday called on the government to accelerate the rebuilding of communities destroyed by supertyphoon Yolanda as Pope Francis plans to visit Eastern Visayas in January “The government must strive to hasten the rehabilitation because if the visit of the Holy Father pushes through, the Philippines will be the focus of the international community,” Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said in an interview over Church-run Radyo Veritas. The chairman of the Public Affairs Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said that Pope's visit would be an opportunity for the government to show the Pontiff and the world that rehabilitation and the lives of the survivors were coming back to normal. “It should be shown to the world that we did something...” Pabillo said. Pabillo said Pope Francis' visit was the Holy Father's way of checking on the condition of the victims of the world's strongest typhoon in recorded history. Many families in the affected provinces remain in dilapidated houses and makeshift shanties months after the supertyphoon hit. Pope Francis has announced that he plans to visit the Philippines in January 2015. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT

ALSO: DSWD chief, rehab czar catch heat for slow ‘Yolanda’ rehab

MAY 30 --Lawmakers have turned their ire and frustration on some members of the Aquino administration tasked to oversee government’s costly post-”Yolanda” rehabilitation program, particularly Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman, noting the snail-paced recovery process for the victims of the killer typhoon. They lamented the fact that seven months after the devastating typhoon, victims are still living in temporary shelters.
Partylist Representatives Luzviminda Ilagan (Gabriela), Terry Ridon and Antonio Tinio (both of Kabataan) and Sherwin Tugna (Citizens Battle Against Corruption) were shocked to learn that thousands of Yolanda survivors remain in “tent cities” despite billions of funds from local and international donors. “Incompetence and insensitivity are trademarks of this administration. All this time we have been saying that the flimsy and graft-ridden bunkhouses are not the answer. Then the bunkhouses were incomplete. Now that the Pope (Benedict XVI) is coming to visit, they are on double time. They are incompetent and insensitive,” Ilagan stressed. Ridon said drastic measures have to be done to ease the predicament of the victims. “The government should expedite the rehabilitation efforts. We cannot be content with the assurances of government agencies that money had already been released for the purpose. The people need to see for themselves that help is present and their homes are theirs for the keeping,” he added. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO earlier news from Int'l Red Cross: Getting children back to school after Typhoon Haiyan

February 2014  -CET Maths teacher Doris Salazar, photo, struggles to teach in her overcrowded temporary classroom at Palo National High School. The room is exposed to the sun and leaks when it rains. When Typhoon Haiyan struck the Visayas region of central Philippines, the Red Cross Society of China was quick to reach out to affected communities.In its first major overseas deployment, the society sent specialist search and rescue teams to the stricken city of Tacloban to help in body retrieval together with emergency medical teams who treated almost 5,000 patients within 30 days. They also played a role in debris removal and carried out decontamination and disease control around the city. Red Cross Society of China building classes in the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan The typhoon damaged more than 3,200 schools across the region, leaving teachers and students with no supplies and no classrooms from which to work. In an effort to get students back into education, the Red Cross Society of China agreed to partner with the Philippine Red Cross in building temporary classrooms for more than 8,500 students across Leyte province. READ MORE...

(ALSO) Int'l Red Cross News: Six months on - Typhoon Haiyan survivors settle into new homes

May 14, 2014 --After Typhoon Haiyan forced them to flee from their childhood village in central Leyte, Jerry and Irene Batic had little choice but to seek refuge in a hastily erected shelter of rotten lumber and coconut leaves built on nearby land owned by a relative. Months later, with a new baby to care for, the young couple are ready to embark on a new life in one of eight newly constructed Red Cross model timber frame houses. Each house is roomy by local standards, measuring 6.5 metres by 2.4 metres. The new homes include high quality corrugated iron roofing and are built to last up to ten years. “It’s much bigger than what we’re used to,” says rice farmer Jerry, who is still stunned by their good fortune. “It has a concrete floor, concrete pillars on all four sides, and a latrine and washbasin.” These Red Cross model homes in Sitio Capahuan, Tabontabon, were completed in record time by team of a dozen hired carpenters, mason and labourers under the watchful eye of retired civil engineer Aben Bulaysac, a longstanding volunteer with the Philippine Red Cross. “The design of the house is based on traditional homes but it’s stronger and the basic engineering standards are higher,” says Bulaysac. “The roofing sheets are stronger, the concrete floor is reinforced with steel and the cement mix is of a higher quality than normal.”


Read Full Stories here:

Gov’t urged: Disclose Yolanda casualty figures

MANILA, JUNE 2, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Paolo Romero - Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez yesterday urged the Aquino administration to update the government’s casualty count from Super Typhoon Yolanda to give closure to surviving relatives and “put the departed souls at peace.”

Romualdez, leader of the independent bloc in the House of Representatives, said bodies continued to turn up in Tacloban City and other areas hardest hit by Yolanda as recently as April as survivors try to rebuild their homes, and yet the government stopped its casualty count at 6,300 with over 1,000 people missing.

He noted that those still missing months after Yolanda meant that the death toll has risen further.

The lawmaker said it was understandable if the Aquino administration wants to portray progress after the disaster, but the very least it can do for the victims is to give them the dignity of recognizing their passing.

“For the sake of closure for the survivors, to honor our dead, to pray for their souls, I cannot fathom why the administration refuses to acknowledge the actual number of casualties so their souls would be at peace,” he said.

“We need to give those unacknowledged by the government the proper burial so we can pay our respects to our dead,” he added.

Romualdez recalled that Malacañang attempted to downplay the casualty count by trying to peg the number at 2,500, but figures from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council showed otherwise, even as the latter has apparently also stopped counting the dead.

FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

DepEd: Yolanda-hit schools in Region 6 not yet ready for students May 31, 2014 8:17am 112 4 0 124 Tags: Department of Education

Schools hit by super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in Western Visayas are not yet ready for students in time for the opening of classes on June 2, the Department of Education said Friday.

DepEd Western Visayas regional director Dr. Corazon Brown said this after superintendents in the region inspected several schools, Iloilo news site The Daily Guardian reported Saturday.

Around 1.6 million pupils are expected to attend classes in public elementary and high schools in Western Visayas. These include 1.1 million elementary and 485,000 high school students, the report said.

“Our superintendents went around for check and found some schools will use tents as makeshift classrooms,” she said.

However, she said the delay in the construction is due to changes in plan to build stronger classrooms

For now, she said repairs of the first batch of schools in the rehabilitation project will start in two weeks to one month. Bidding has yet to start for the second batch.

“Even if we are a bit delayed in the construction, we make sure that the buildings that we will be constructing are stronger. It will be a bit costly but it can withstand stronger typhoons and earthquakes,” she said.

Despite this, Brown said all schools are expected to be ready for the opening of classes on Monday.

Meanwhile, Brown said they expect the number of students to increase if they include late enrollees.

The TDG report said the entire student population in Western Visayas, including those in private schools, could reach two million. — Joel Locsin /LBG, GMA News

Bishop asks gov't to hasten post-Yolanda rehab as Pope visits in January May 28, 2014 7:40pm 81 15 0 96 Tags: Leyte

A Catholic bishop on Wednesday called on the government to accelerate the rebuilding of communities destroyed by supertyphoon Yolanda as Pope Francis plans to visit Eastern Visayas in January

“The government must strive to hasten the rehabilitation because if the visit of the Holy Father pushes through, the Philippines will be the focus of the international community,” Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said in an interview over Church-run Radyo Veritas.

The chairman of the Public Affairs Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said that Pope's visit would be an opportunity for the government to show the Pontiff and the world that rehabilitation and the lives of the survivors were coming back to normal.

“It should be shown to the world that we did something...” Pabillo said.

Pabillo said Pope Francis' visit was the Holy Father's way of checking on the condition of the victims of the world's strongest typhoon in recorded history.

Many families in the affected provinces remain in dilapidated houses and makeshift shanties months after the supertyphoon hit.

Pope Francis has announced that he plans to visit the Philippines in January 2015. —NB, GMA News

FROM THE TRIBUNE

DSWD chief, rehab czar catch heat for slow ‘Yolanda’ rehab
Written by By Gerry Baldo and Angie M. Rosales Saturday, 31 May 2014 00:00


PNoy AND HIS REHAB CZAR

Lawmakers have turned their ire and frustration on some members of the Aquino administration tasked to oversee government’s costly post-”Yolanda” rehabilitation program, particularly Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman, noting the snail-paced recovery process for the victims of the killer typhoon.

They lamented the fact that seven months after the devastating typhoon, victims are still living in temporary shelters.

Partylist Representatives Luzviminda Ilagan (Gabriela), Terry Ridon and Antonio Tinio (both of Kabataan) and Sherwin Tugna (Citizens Battle Against Corruption) were shocked to learn that thousands of Yolanda survivors remain in “tent cities” despite billions of funds from local and international donors.

“Incompetence and insensitivity are trademarks of this administration. All this time we have been saying that the flimsy and graft-ridden bunkhouses are not the answer. Then the bunkhouses were incomplete. Now that the Pope is coming to visit, they are on double time. They are incompetent and insensitive,” Ilagan stressed.

Ridon said drastic measures have to be done to ease the predicament of the victims.

“The government should expedite the rehabilitation efforts. We cannot be content with the assurances of government agencies that money had already been released for the purpose. The people need to see for themselves that help is present and their homes are theirs for the keeping,” he added.

Tinio, referring to the fire that gutted one of the makeshift housing facilities, said: “A family that survived the worst disaster in recent memory has perished as a result of government incompetence and neglect. Government’s failure to provide safe temporary housing endangers the lives of thousands of Yolanda victims.”

“The incident brings sadness, as the fire lasted only for a few minutes. The rehabilitation czar (Panfilo Lacson) and agencies concerned should work double time and put extra effort to speed up the construction of permanent homes,” Tugna, for his part pointed, out.

The House minority bloc also made similar sentiments.

A tent that razed by fire believed to be caused by gas lamp in Tacloban City killed Maria Eliza Ocenar, 38, and her children Cathleen, 11; Justine, 10; Jan Mark, 6; Jovelyn, 5; Jazmin Claire, 3; and a four-month-old baby girl.

Renante Ocenar, the father was out fishing when the incident happened.

The Ocenar family is among the estimated 800 families who are yet to be permanently relocated to safer ground in Tacloban City.

Meanwhile, key ranking Executive officials are being called to be subjected to a Senate investigation over the disbursement of over P32-billion so-called “Yolanda” rehabilitation funds, due to apparent neglect in the reconstruction of school buildings, classrooms and other educational facilities in the disaster-stricken areas.

More than six months since the super typhoon ripped through the Visayas regions, only 762 out of 2,172 totally damaged classrooms have been constructed so far, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. bared in a resolution that he filed in the upper chamber seeking to check whether the P100-million “Yolanda” funds appropriated by Congress last year, are being dispensed with properly.

Marcos’ Resolution 673, sought the have the committee on public works direct Secretaries Florencio Abad (Budget and Management) and Armin Luistro (Education), as well as officials from the Commission on Higher Education to explain before them the apparent lapses in overseeing the repair and reconstruction of damaged school buildings and other educational facilities in time for the school opening this month.

The senator noted reports where Lacson was quoted as saying the P32.2 billion that the DBM released was not for reconstruction, but primarily for relief operations of Yolanda victims.

“It is crucial to swiftly resolve this issue since the registration of students had already started, in preparation for the opening of school year 2014-2015 on the first week of June,” Marcos said.

Congress had allotted over P100 billion under the 2014 national budget and subsequently approved a supplemental budget in the amount of P14.6 billion allocated for the rehabilitation of disaster-hit areas, the senator added.

At least P1 billion of the amount, Marcos pointed out, had been earmarked for the repair of public elementary and high schools, with another P1 billion for the rehabilitation of damaged facilities of state universities and colleges.

Abad had announced that the government had already released P32.2 billion for the rehabilitation efforts in disaster-stricken areas.

Reports made by the DepEd showed that a total of 5,007 classrooms out of 9,420 partially damaged classrooms have been repaired and out of 2,172 totally damaged classrooms in the affected areas, only 764 have been constructed so far.

This miserable scenario will affect almost 200,000 elementary and high school students who will be forced to hold classes in 1,828 makeshift and pre-fabricated classrooms, and 2,555 tents this coming school year, according to DepEd.

Marcos stressed the need to investigate, in aid of legislation, the status of the reconstruction and rehabilitation of school facilities and the use of funds appropriated for the purpose that had already been released, in order to restore normalcy and ensure the welfare of the students and the whole academic community in the area.

EARLY NEWS FROM THE INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF RED CROSS

Getting children back to school after Typhoon Haiyan Published: 4 February 2014 15:45 By Kate Marshall, IFRC


CET Maths teacher Doris Salazar struggles to teach in her overcrowded temporary classroom at Palo National High School. The room is exposed to the sun and leaks when it rains. Patrick Fuller/IFRC

When Typhoon Haiyan struck the Visayas region of central Philippines, the Red Cross Society of China was quick to reach out to affected communities.

In its first major overseas deployment, the society sent specialist search and rescue teams to the stricken city of Tacloban to help in body retrieval together with emergency medical teams who treated almost 5,000 patients within 30 days. They also played a role in debris removal and carried out decontamination and disease control around the city.


CLICK HERE TO VIEW: China Red Cross in Philippines thumbnail In pictures

Red Cross Society of China building classes in the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan

The typhoon damaged more than 3,200 schools across the region, leaving teachers and students with no supplies and no classrooms from which to work. In an effort to get students back into education, the Red Cross Society of China agreed to partner with the Philippine Red Cross in building temporary classrooms for more than 8,500 students across Leyte province.

At the instigation of vice-president Dr. Zhao Baige, a vessel was loaded with enough building material to fill 40 containers and sent straight to Tacloban.

Wang Ping, director of society’s relief and health department, was tasked with the job of overseeing the initial construction phase of 166 temporary classrooms in 20 schools. The aims was to complete them in time for the new school year that started in January.

"Originally, we had thought to build temporary shelters for homeless people, but it became obvious that the type of prefabricated structures we had were better suited to classrooms rather than housing," said Mr Wang.

By the third week of January – interrupted by frequent heavy downpours that hampered construction – the team of 35 Chinese engineers and volunteer construction workers from Philippine Red Cross were putting the finishing touches to the last of the classrooms. Chinese engineers trained the volunteers – some of them school students – to assemble the classrooms, which typically take three days to erect.

“Classrooms had to be sited close to the existing school but we had to take into account risk mitigation,” says Mr Wang. “This meant we could not build on low-lying land prone to flooding. Even though they are temporary, the classrooms will need to last for at least five years. I’m confident they could last for 10 if necessary.”

At Palo National High School, Doris Salazar has been teaching her maths class out of a temporary classroom made out of timber and flimsy plywood. The original school was partially destroyed during the storm; every roof was torn off.

“When it rains the students have to wear rubber boots to class because of the mud and I have to use my umbrella when I write at the blackboard,” she says. “Students were keen to return to school as it takes their minds off what they have experienced during the typhoon. But it’s been a real struggle. We have had to combine classes and run lessons on alternate days as we don’t have enough classrooms.”

Maryjoy Mina, 16, is really looking forward to moving into one of the new classrooms built by the Red Cross and lessons getting back to normal. She is one of many senior students who work weekends to help her family pay for food and other household supplies for rebuilding the family home,

Maryjoy says that she and her friends are looking forward to graduating this year. “We’re glad about the new classrooms because they’re more comfortable,” she says. “It can get very hot here in the open air classrooms and they leak when it rains. We also lost our supplies. Now, if someone has a notebook, we tear off pages so that everyone can have paper.”

For the Red Cross Society of China, the next phase of the project will be to equip the classrooms with badly needed furniture and supplies.

FROM THE RED CROSS MAY 14, 2014

Six months on - Typhoon Haiyan survivors settle into new homes Published: 14 May 2014 9:51 CET By Kate Marshall, IFRC


The shelter programme is beginning to have an impact with families moving into newly constructed homes. Veejay Villafranca / IFRC

After Typhoon Haiyan forced them to flee from their childhood village in central Leyte, Jerry and Irene Batic had little choice but to seek refuge in a hastily erected shelter of rotten lumber and coconut leaves built on nearby land owned by a relative.

Months later, with a new baby to care for, the young couple are ready to embark on a new life in one of eight newly constructed Red Cross model timber frame houses. Each house is roomy by local standards, measuring 6.5 metres by 2.4 metres. The new homes include high quality corrugated iron roofing and are built to last up to ten years.

“It’s much bigger than what we’re used to,” says rice farmer Jerry, who is still stunned by their good fortune. “It has a concrete floor, concrete pillars on all four sides, and a latrine and washbasin.”

These Red Cross model homes in Sitio Capahuan, Tabontabon, were completed in record time by team of a dozen hired carpenters, mason and labourers under the watchful eye of retired civil engineer Aben Bulaysac, a longstanding volunteer with the Philippine Red Cross.

“The design of the house is based on traditional homes but it’s stronger and the basic engineering standards are higher,” says Bulaysac. “The roofing sheets are stronger, the concrete floor is reinforced with steel and the cement mix is of a higher quality than normal.”

It’s tough working all day in the sweltering heat but part of the self-recovery agreement between the Red Cross and householders is that they contribute labour if they are able to do so. Just a week before, Jerry was helping to dig the foundations and cart away soil.

His neighbour Laudino Maballo was also helping another team of labourers erect the block work walls of his house, the second to be built. Maballo and his elderly mother Florentina Magiones couldn’t stop beaming.

“We just escaped from being killed when a tree fell on our house during Yolanda (Haiyan),” he says. “This house will totally change our life.”

Carpenter Macario Nacional also feels fortunate. He was recruited by the Red Cross at a time when he badly needed the work. As a skilled tradesman, he earns 500 Pesos (USD 11) a day, while unskilled labourers earn 300 Pesos (USD 7), equivalent to the minimum wage in this part of Leyte.

Because of a shortage of skilled labour locally, Red Cross is also keen to hire and train locals as carpenters and masons to fill the skills gap and give a boost to livelihoods in the area.

Philippine Red Cross’ shelter officer in Leyte, Allan Mosqueda, says the pilot housing project is gearing up to erect 500 model temporary (core) houses in Leyte, and will be done in stages.

“Overall, I’m happy with what we’re doing and the pace at which we’re doing it,” Mosqueda says. “The good thing about doing the pilot in stages is we don’t rush to build all the homes at once, so we get to sort out the growing pains.”

Shelter teams are ramping up the pilot phase with distributions of corrugated iron sheets and shelter repair kits to hundreds of families across the typhoon affected areas in the next few weeks. Under current funding, 6,000 beneficiaries in Leyte whose homes were destroyed will be temporarily rehoused and up to 8,000 will get help with repairs.

In all, 300,000 corrugated iron sheets are on order and their delivery will be staggered over the coming months. Some 30,000 of these have already arrived in the Cebu warehouse, from where they are shipped to islands across central Visayas for distribution by the Philippine Red Cross shelter teams.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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