- Lawmakers hit slow Yolanda rehab

In The News
23 May 2014

By John Carlo Cahinhinan | CITY -- Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and cousin Leyte Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez on Friday criticized the slow pace of the construction and rehabilitation of typhoon Yolanda-hit areas and "limited role" of rehab czar Secretary Panfilo "Ping" Lacson.

The two lawmakers said Lacson sounded a bit frustrated over the slow response of some government agencies in rehabilitation efforts.

"(Secretary Lacson is doing his best) but he sounds a little bit frustrated because his role is limited to coordination. But he is trying his best to do his job," said Marcos of his ex-colleague in the Senate.

Romualdez, for his part, said Lacson's success in the rehabilitation efforts would be not only his success but also "the success of the entire people of Tacloban and the rest of the Eastern Visayas region."

"I know the reputation of Secretary Lacson, his track record speaks for it but we felt bad for him kasi hindi niya magawa yung mga gusto niyang gawin para sa rehabilitation efforts because of the bureaucracy happening in this country," Marcos said.

Marcos noted that the ongoing rehabilitation efforts mostly rely on the foreign aids and donations from the private sectors as states funds are oftentimes caught in bureaucratic red tape.

The senator said the Aquino administration is "treating the rehabilitation program as a regular government project rather than a priority project (that's why it is quite slow)."

The two lawmakers also aired their disappointment over the absence of a master plan to rebuild the Yolanda-stricken communities.

"It was disappointing to hear that there is still no overall rehabilitation plan," Romualdez said.

Marcos reminded the government to fulfill its promise to give the local government a bigger role in the rebuilding efforts and immediately download funds especially that he and Romualdez helped pushed for the appropriation of P120 billion in this year's national budget for Yolanda rebuilding efforts.

"We are thankful to all the help from the National Government and international community. But the National Government should make good of its promise to download substantial funds for the victims and they must do it expeditiously. The local government units should be tapped also because they have the manpower to provide the immediate help," Marcos said.

The lawmaker also expressed frustration over the claim of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad that only P32.2-billion Yolanda funds have been released since May 15.

"Sana maramdaman na ang pondong iyan," Marcos said.

Romualdez agreed with his cousin, saying Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman and Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II do not need to come in Yolanda-hit areas every time the government would extend help to LGUs.

"They can delegate that to their subordinates," Romualdez said.

Nevertheless, Romualdez expressed gratitude to President Benigno Aquino III, Soliman, Roxas, international donors and the media for helping the survivors of the strongest storm to make landfall in the country.

"We are not here to criticize, we are very thankful to all the help. But I think we have to improve the system and expeditiously deliver the needs of the survivors," said Romualdez.