TACLOBAN CITY— Businessmen who were affected by supertyphoon Yolanda’s fury are now slowly getting back on their feet. Out of their hard work and perseverance and not because they are being given the needed financial assistance by the government, said Jack Uy, president of the Tacloban-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Uy said despite that the apparent lack of government support, he and his group of about 140 members continue to thrive and help rebuild the city. “We are now 80 to 90 percent back in the business. The remaining 10 to 20 percent are reluctant to comeback, either because of trauma or still looking for fresh capital, while some have opened their businesses in other places. But we keep on working,” Uy said in an interview. As national government’s financial assistance remains dim for the business sector in the Yolanda-devastated areas, Uy said they just rely on each other and to their friends for help.

“We need help, but the question is they (the government) are not helping us. There are some commercial banks responded, but not all of them. They don’t extend so much loans to businessmen because they got existing loan. We are asking to extend the loan longer than we have before and give us easier term in repayment,” said Uy, adding that more than 50 percent of the local businessmen were rendered bankrupt after Yolanda.

Uy said that the massive looting incident that took place a day after Yolanda pummeled Tacloban compounded their problem.  “We have been left behind. The Department of Trade and Industry is extending loan but in a selective method. The way they offer it, I think, they only have a limit of P1.5 million. The businessmen need more than that. Today, what is P1.5 million?” Uy asked.According to Uy, the amount they extend is not enough for restart their operations. “If you have an old building, you will use the amount to repair it, and you will have nothing anymore for the capital.” Uy cited his own rice mill whose entire building collapsed and all the machineries destroyed. “To recover, you have to build warehouse which will cost P15 million and the machinery cost millions also.” After the building, Uy said they need capital to buy “palay” or rice and hire workers which is getting difficult to find in Tacloban now as some of them have moved to other places.

“At present and the most important part is to extend loan to the businessmen. If only the government or the international organizations can extend loan to the business sector, it is most welcome,” Uy stressed. (RONALD O.REYES)