TACLOBAN CITY- It’s about time.
Thus said the spokesperson of Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez, reacting on President Aquino’s declaration that the rehabilitation plan of Tacloban was already approved by him, along with other plans of provinces hit by Supertyphoon Yolanda. Bernardita Valenzuela said that the Tacloban Recovery and Rehabilitation Plan (TRRP) was submitted to the national government through the Office of Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPPAR) headed by Secretary Panfilo Lacson last May of this year by Mayor Romualdez.
Romualdez could not be contacted as he was in the United States, Valenzuela said. She said that while they welcome the pronouncement of Mr. Aquino, they just hope that the rehabilitation works would actually start immediately since its been eight months now since Tacloban was pummeled by Yolanda, strongest typhoon to ever hit the country.
“It is easy to say that it was already approved. But the question after he approved it, then what?” Valenzuela, reached on the phone, said.
She added that they hope that the work would start before the first year anniversary of Yolanda’s devastation that resulted to the deaths of more than 2,000 people in Tacloban.
The TRRP is the massive rehabilitation plan of Tacloban involving an amount of P28 billion, an amount that is beyond the financial capacity of the city whose finances have been drastically affected. From its previous income of more than P800 million, half of which was taken from its local sources with the remaining its share of internal revenue allotment, its projected income for this year was placed at more than P620 million.
During his State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday, President Aquino announced that the rehabilitation plans of Tacloban and other areas hit by Yolanda were already approved by him. But Valenzuela said that they just hope that after the President’s pronouncement actual rehabilitation work in Tacloban would commence right away.
She particularly mentioned that the construction of houses for the thousands of families who totally lost their homes during the typhoon would start immediately.
“There are still 800 families living in tents in Tacloban. And it’s been eight months now and living in tents is intolerable,” she said. Valenzuela said that personally she does not care whether it will be the city government or the national government that will do the rehabilitation works. “It does not matter as who will do the repair so long as this will be done,” the spokesperson of Romualdez said. Earlier Romualdez complained that the national government is not providing financial assistance to Tacloban, derailing his plan to undertake his rehabilitation efforts. (JOEY GABIETA)