By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (PNA photo by Rey Baniquet)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Wednesday instructed the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) and the National Housing Authority (NHA) to fast-track the awarding of housing units to victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda.

During the 10th year commemoration of the typhoon’s landfall at the Tacloban City Convention Center, Marcos said the work is not yet done, considering that many Yolanda survivors continue to await government’s assistance.

“So, we have engaged the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development and the National Housing Authority to accelerate the provision of housing units and land titles to our beneficiaries,” Marcos said.

During the event, Marcos attended a holy mass for Yolanda victims and led the distribution of housing titles to thousands of beneficiaries of the NHA’s Yolanda Permanent Housing Sites.

Marcos thanked national and local leaders, the private sector, international and local organizations, volunteers and donors for their contributions to ensure the recovery and rebuilding of Yolanda-hit areas.

He also lauded the Tacloban City government for its efforts to strengthen the locality’s disaster resiliency.

He called on the Yolanda Response Clusters to work closely with concerned local governments to address the lingering issues of the different affected communities.

“Ten years have gone by and yet the memory of this tragedy remains indelible in our hearts and in our thoughts,” Marcos said. “Let us continue to work hard so that we can provide them with the tools and the resources to rebuild their lives.”

Disaster preparedness

Marcos ensured that the government is working hard to avoid a repeat of the Yolanda tragedy.

He said the construction of “disaster-resilient” evacuation centers and emergency operations centers will continue.

He also noted that a “more centralized and efficient” early warning systems, incident command systems, and disaster response strategies are currently in place.

Marcos added that new technologies such as GeoRiskPH and PlanSmart are being developed to save lives in times of emergency.

“It is also crucial to be reminded that climate change will keep exacerbating the impact of natural disasters. As I have said, we must make climate change a vital component of our national policies,” he said.

“We must make sure that we apply our knowledge on climate change to every plan, to every decision, and initiative so we can build stronger and more resilient communities,” Marcos added.

Remembering the dead

Marcos also enjoined Yolanda survivors to continue offering prayers for those who died during the onslaught of the typhoon.

“And to this day, we still do not know the true scope of our loss because we grieve and we mourn those of our dead. But we must always keep a special place in our hearts for those who we lost, who are uncounted, who are unrecorded so that up to now we say 6,000 casualties, we do not know that for sure. We are certain that there were more but for whatever reason their deaths have not been recorded,” he said.

“So, even if that is the case, let them not be unremembered. So, when we grieve and when we mourn for our dead, keep a special place in your heart for those who have not been known to have gone but we know in our hearts, we know the loss that we feel. Let us always pray for them.” (With a report from Sarwell Meniano, PNA)