May 7, 2014
CHIZ SLAMS GOV'T AGENCIES FOR SLOW RESPONSE TO POST-YOLANDA REHABILITATION EFFORTS
Senator Chiz Escudero expressed frustration over the failure of some government agencies to act swiftly to reconstruct areas hit by super typhoon Yolanda despite the approval of a multi-billion post-disaster funding months ago to rehabilitate communities leveled by the monster calamity.
In today's hearing of the joint congressional oversight committees on public expenditures, Escudero noted the lack of sense urgency among executive agencies tasked to put together a massive rehabilitation program for provinces devastated by Yolanda as well as other disasters.
"I share the frustration of the President. From what I have heard from today's hearing, these agencies do not share President Aquino's sense of urgency, the Congress' sense of urgency," Escudero lamented. "We have fast-tracked the appropriation of funds for reconstruction and rehabilitation specifically to immediately address the needs of the affected families and communities and yet up until this minute the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) cannot even come up with the post-disaster needs assessment (PDNA)."
Escudero, who co-chairs the oversight committee, said the PDNA is necessary in order to come up with a consolidated rehabilitation plan, but the NDRMMC admitted it is still in the process of collecting assessments.
"This is very sad. Six months after Yolanda, more than a year after the previous disasters we don't even know what exactly the affected communities need? It is not about what we can give or what we will to give. This lackadaisical attitude is prolonging the anguish of victims. It is bordering on criminal already," he said.
Escudero said agencies who act with unreasonable protracted effort will be called to task and will be exacted compliance to speed up the rehabilitation efforts through the power of the oversight committees.
According to Escudero, only about 10 percent of the total 2014 post-disaster budget has been utilized since it was approved last December.
"Congress has appropriated a total amount of P40 billion for 2014 and only P3 billion has been spent as of date. It's already been four months after the budget has taken effect and yet the blue print for rehabilitation is still blue or even blank. We are now entering a new cycle of rainy season, and plans and projects will be again halted by the bad weather. How slow can our agencies get?" he pointed out.
The executive agencies invited to the oversight hearing were the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Education, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Budget and Management and the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR).
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