Government seeks continued help for Yolanda survivors

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Sunday, February 16, 2014

MANILA -- Malacañang asked the public on Sunday for continued assistance to the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), as the road to recovery remains a long one.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the government has not relaxed in providing assistance to those affected, and remains open to suggestions on how to improve its efforts.

"As we mark the 100th day after Super Typhoon Yolanda hit the country, government is firmly determined to carry out massive rehabilitation efforts in all 171 municipalities and cities affected by this unprecedented calamity," Coloma said on state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

He cited the advice of United Nations (UN) resident humanitarian coordinator Luiza Carvalho that no one can afford to become complacent at this time.

He also called on Filipinos to extend a helping hand to affected individuals as part of maintaining the spirit of the 1986 Edsa People Power revolt, whose 28th anniversary will be marked on February 25.

"We call on all Filipinos in the spirit of bayanihan and in the spirit of Edsa People Power, that we will be celebrating soon, to continue working with government and all donor and aid agencies in extending a helping hand to our countrymen who are rebuilding their lives and seeking a better future," he said.

In the meantime, Coloma said President Benigno Aquino III has directed the Cabinet to prepare a detailed roadmap for effective response to disasters before the onset of the rainy season in June.

This includes new emergency alert protocols for storm surge, floods, and landslides, as well as the strict implementation of no-build zones along coastlines and higher standards for disaster resiliency of buildings and infrastructure.

Another priority is the setting up of an all-weather communications system, including satellite phones and mobile communications kits to ensure connectivity even if power is knocked out.

"The President has also said that, with the worsening effects of climate change, we must make even greater measures to adapt including reinforcing our supply of power," he said.

Affected families living in bunkhouses and temporary shelters will also be provided permanent housing in new human settlements with facilities for livelihood activities.

New school buildings, municipal halls, public markets, and town centers will be constructed.

On the other hand, Coloma said the Philippines and other disaster-prone countries must break the cycle of prediction, devastation, and rehabilitation by adopting the principle of build-back-better and being more productive.

Coloma thanked the UN, foreign governments, businessmen, international and domestic organizations, civic organizations, and volunteers who "extended and continue to provide financial and logistical support, as well as valuable time, talent, and treasure to affected families in the calamity zones."

He said Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery Secretary Panfilo Lacson has already prioritized local government units that have done their homework in preparing post-disaster needs assessment analysis and corresponding rehabilitation plan.

"Secretary Lacson is currently coordinating the efforts of Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and National Housing Authority (NHA) in preparing relocation and rebuilding sites for new permanent housing and local government facilities," he said.

For its part, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) continues to attend to the basic needs of families still occupying temporary shelters.

Coloma said Department of Health (DOH) doctors and paramedics are on the lookout against the outbreak of diseases.

The Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) is providing cash-for-work and temporary employment opportunities while the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) is conducting skills training.

Yolanda, the world’s strongest storm to hit land in years, left 8,000 people dead or missing and billions of pesos in damage to property. (SDR/Sunnex)

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