PH government eyes P40.9-B post-calamity rehab budget


MANILA — President Benigno S. Aquino III and his Cabinet ironed out government programs aimed at immediately rehabilitating typhoon-affected areas in Eastern Visayas, a Palace official said on Saturday.

In a statement Saturday, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the government priority areas are the localities within the 50-kilometer zone from the eye of Typhoon Yolanda that struck Eastern Visayas and nearby regions.

Included in this first-priority zone are 171 municipalities in 14 provinces and six regions, Coloma said over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

These municipalities cover 4,971 barangays in an area of 25,000 square kilometers with an estimated total population of 6.6 million as of 2010, he said. He added that the DOST is conducting continuing analysis of satellite images to guide on-ground assessment of actual needs.

The Cabinet discussion also focused on providing livelihood to families affected by the typhoon that need to be done immediately, he said.

Within the priority areas, the major aspects of rehabilitation and reconstruction included housing and resettlement, reconstruction of economic and social infrastructure; restoring government and public services as well as focusing on agriculture and fisheries.

The government thrust is also geared towards re-energizing local economic development through livelihood and employment, he reported.

The government also assessed the budgetary needs of the rehabilitation process, Coloma said. The President emphasized the importance of fine-tuning budget estimates to ensure that every peso is spent wisely, considering the magnitude of government expenditures not just for post-Yolanda rehabilitation and for other calamities, including Zamboanga, Bohol and Central Luzon, post-Santi.

The Cabinet revised its initial estimate of P38.8 billion to P40.9 billion rehabilitation budget after factoring in the requirements for local government buildings and facilities, police and fire stations, and public markets.

The sectoral allocations are as follows: shelter and public infrastructure (including roads, bridges, airport, port and other facilities), 67 percent; livelihood and employment (including support to agriculture and fisheries) 12 percent; local facilities, 11 per cent; social services, including health services, education and training, 9 percent.

These budget estimates will be subjected to further fine-tuning through on-ground validation of initial rapid assessment findings.

The President emphasized the need to ensure that basic needs of food and shelter are addressed adequately and in a timely manner, Coloma said.

The President wants forward-planning to focus on strengthening the capabilities of the people, institutions, and structures to deal with the challenge of disasters as a result of climate change, he added. (PNA)

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