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Legarda on 4th Yolanda Anniversary: Rebuild Communities, Build Resilience

November 8, 2017

In commemoration of the fourth anniversary of Supertyphoon Yolanda, Senator Loren Legarda today renewed her call to concerned agencies to fast-track the rebuilding of affected communities, especially the provision of permanent shelters for displaced families.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committees on Finance and Climate Change, said that of the total housing units needed, less than half has been completed and only 12% has been occupied.

“We should be uplifting the survivors’ dignity and giving them renewed hope. It is lamentable that four years after the Yolanda tragedy, many affected families remain homeless while thousands of housing units remain unoccupied. This causes despair and prolonged agony for the affected individuals, many of whom not only lost their homes but also their loved ones,” she said.

“Concerned agencies, especially the National Housing Authority (NHA), should be more proactive in coordinating with the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) and the National Electrification Authority (NEA) to ensure power and water service connections so that completed units can already be occupied,” she added.

According to the NHA’s accomplishment report as of July 31, 2017, of the 205,128 housing units needed in the aftermath of Yolanda, 67,754 units have been completed so far and only 23,687 units have been occupied; and of the 15 location provinces, there are still four provinces—Palawan, Masbate, Southern Leyte and Dinagat Islands—with no housing units completed yet.

The NHA cited the incomplete list of beneficiaries and the lack of power and water utilities as causes of delay in the completion of the Yolanda permanent housing program.

Legarda also noted the Commission on Audit’s 2016 Annual Financial Report on Government-Owned or Controlled Corporations that the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) failed to properly account for P2.453 billion worth of funds for the Yolanda Recovery and Rehabilitation Program (YRRP) and that poor planning of its Yolanda-related projects resulted in delays and low implementation rate; while the National Food Authority (NFA) had spent only P58.138 million of the P111.205 million it received under YRRP as of the end of 2016.

Meanwhile, Legarda also renewed her call to the national government and local government units (LGUs), as well as communities and individuals, to work together in building a more resilient nation.

“I believe we have been improving on our resilience efforts. Agencies, LGUs and communities are more aware of disaster risks and the impacts of climate change. We have become more proactive in responding to impending natural hazards. We notice the improvements, especially in the issuance of advisories and early warnings. LGUs are able to enforce early evacuation and national government agencies are prepositioning goods prior to landfall of typhoons. But we need to do more,” Legarda explained.

She added, “We still need to heighten not only the level of awareness but also of the action that we take in order to reduce disaster risks and address and mitigate the impacts of climate change. LGUs have to complete their local climate change action plans and access the People’s Survival Fund; our national government should access the Green Climate Fund; and we should double our efforts in building infrastructure that can withstand natural hazards, creating communities that are climate-smart, and protecting our environment, which will be our ultimate protection against disaster risks.”

“Yolanda was a tragic example of stronger natural hazards caused by climate change. We should expect more of it, but more important is to be prepared for these extreme weather events. We will only be resilient if we learn the lessons of past disasters and translate these lessons into action,” Legarda concluded.