Aquino ‘to get Cebu’s report’

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

IT'S the first time President Benigno Aquino III will mark in Cebu the anniversary of the People Power Revolution, but officials hope his attention will also focus on present-day challenges.

Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III said he looks forward to the opportunity to tell the President about what northern Cebu needs to recover from typhoon Yolanda.

It will also be Aquino’s first visit to Cebu since the super typhoon struck large parts of the Visayas, leaving more than 6,200 dead, nearly 1,800 missing and damaging some P39 billion in infrastructure and agricultural produce.


The President will witness at the Capitol a reenactment of the meeting between civilians and military officers who supported their protests against the Marcos dictatorship.

After the reenactment, Governor Davide will join President Aquino in a helicopter flight to Bantayan Island.

In a meeting last week, mayors from the northern towns expressed their dismay that they have not yet received any funds from the National Government. They told representatives from the office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (PARR) that their towns, too, needed help.

Bantayan Island, with its three towns, is one of two areas in Cebu where Yolanda struck land last Nov. 8. The other was Daanbantayan. A total of 15 towns and Bogo City in northern Cebu suffered as a result of Yolanda, which damaged schools, health centers and thousands of homes, and wrecked poultry farms and fishing boats.

“I will make sure that I’ll have the opportunity to tell the President about Cebu’s needs, particularly our need for funding support from the government agencies involved in the rehabilitation,” Davide said.


The Regional Development Council in Central Visayas has endorsed the Capitol’s proposed rehabilitation and reconstruction program, which will require P26.84 billion.

Apart from the Bantayan Island towns of Sta. Fe, Bantayan and Madridejos, as well as Daanbantayan town, the other areas affected by Yolanda in Cebu are San Francisco, Pilar, Poro, Tudela, Tabuelan, Tuburan, San Remegio, Tabogon, Borbon, Sogod, Daanbantayan, Medellin and Bogo City.

“I will also tell him (the President) about recommendations from the Task Force Paglig-on. I hope Secretary Lacson gives these his attention,” Davide added. Former senator and one-time PNP chief Panfilo Lacson heads the PARR.

However, there was no confirmation that Lacson would be joining the President during his visit to Bantayan Island.

Governor Davide said he is preparing a letter for Lacson, with an attached report from Task Force Paglig-on, regarding the rehabilitation challenges in Cebu.

President Aquino is expected to meet with the three mayors in Bantayan Island today and attend a short program in Bantayan proper.

He is also scheduled to visit other Yolanda-ravaged areas like Tacloban City, Tanauan and Palo in Leyte, and Guiuan in Eastern Samar.

Survivors’ trip

For its part, the Naval Forces Central (Navforcen) expressed willingness to help ferry

survivors currently in Cebu back to their hometowns in other parts of the Visayas.

The Cebu City Government’s Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS) earlier said they wanted to ask for help from the Philippine Navy and Air Force to transport the survivors. Some of these survivors are staying in the tent city in the South Road Properties (SRP).

DSWS has set aside P3,000 for the fare and meals of each family under the City’s Balik Probinsya (Back to the Provinces) program.

But DSWS Chief Ester Concha worries that the amount might not be enough for families with four or more members.

Commodore Reynaldo Yoma, commander of Navforcen, said that Navy vessels will soon be ready to ferry the survivors back to their places; for now, they are still transporting some goods and materials for the rehabilitation to the areas devastated by the typhoon.

“We will always be ready and willing to accommodate them. Our assets are there to ferry civilians,” Yoma told Sun.Star Cebu.

March trip

As early as March 1, Yoma said, Navforcen can start accommodating survivors who want to go home.

He added that DSWS may submit a letter-request to their office so they can assign a vessel and the date of travel. Right now, smaller Navy vessels are on standby at the Captain Veloso Pier of Navforcen.

“If there will be a bigger number of individuals who will avail themselves of the transport, we are willing to request a bigger vessel from our National Headquarters to accommodate them,” Yoma added.

From Cebu, the Navy can bring the survivors to the port of Ormoc, the nearest pier. It will take around seven hours.

“I have to remind them that compared to commercial vessels, our assets are not that fast but we assure that they will be safe and sure to reach their destination,” Yoma said.

Of the 54 families currently staying in the tent city, 10 have expressed their intention to go back to their hometowns soon. Some home-based survivors also want to head back home and have already asked the DSWS for some help. (Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 25, 2014.

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