‘Tacloban didn’t get aid Baguio received’
BAGUIO CITY—Recovery in areas devastated by Super Typhoon “Yolanda” has been slow because of the government’s inability to pour in resources in the affected areas, compared to the fast-paced redevelopment of Baguio City and other places devastated by the July 16, 1990 killer earthquake.
Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez gave this assessment Saturday when he was the guest speaker during the 24th anniversary of the Local Government Code and the Barangay Day celebrations spearheaded by the city government and the Liga ng mga Barangay at Burnham Park.
“The pace of development in the Yolanda-stricken areas in the Visayas has been very bad because of the inability of the government to infuse sufficient funds into Tacloban City and other Leyte areas,” Romualdez said.
The Leyte lawmaker said that the government only spent around P15 billion for the relief, recovery and rehabilitation of Tacloban City and other typhoon-hit areas, compared to its programmed budget of P180 billion, in order to return the Yolanda-stricken areas to full development.
Even the multi-billion-peso pledges of foreign governments through international non-government organizations have not yet been released to the people of the Visayas, he said.
He said the people of Leyte are fed up with the unfulfilled promises of the government, which is why there is a need for reforms in the policies concerning calamity-stricken areas like Tacloban City.
The creation of an independent emergency and disaster response body would help guarantee efficient and effective disaster response in the countryside, Romualdez explained.
He said that he has authored a bill creating a permanent disaster body that would be empowered to plan, decide and implement relief, recovery and rehabilitation operations without political intervention.
“We want to have our own version of the Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA) of the United States that can independently decide on the things that must be done in disaster-stricken areas without the need for presidential intervention, which would guarantee faster relief, recovery and rehabilitation efforts, especially the affected areas in the countryside,” Romualdez said.