‘Yolanda’ multi-donor fund created to fast-track rehab efforts

Aerial shot of the province of which was heavily damaged by super typhoon Yolanda (MNS photo)

Aerial shot of the province of which was heavily damaged by super typhoon Yolanda (MNS photo)

MANILA, Jan 23 (Mabuhay) -– A multi-donor fund has been created to fast-track rehabilitation efforts in areas devastated by super typhoon “Yolanda,” Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Reconstruction (PARR) chief Panfilo Lacson said.

In his keynote speech at the Experts Forum on Rebuilding Communities and Ecosystems After “Yolanda” at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), Lacson said the fund was created for those “who want to just part with their money out of the goodness of their hearts but do not have the organization or time to commit to this humanitarian effort.”

Lacson said the fund will be managed by “very credible and top executives” from ABS-CBN Corp., GMA Network, Philippine Long Distance Company, Smart Communications, Globe Telecom, as well as SGV founder Washington SyCip.

The rehabilitation chief said the fund will be opened as soon as the initial donations entrusted to Taiwan-based Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) arrive.

The first set of accounts (Dollar savings account no. 105-310-463-926 and Peso savings account no. 005-310-633-988) have been opened at the BDO Ayala Avenue branch.

Lacson said other savings account will be opened soon in Metrobank, Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation, Philippine National Bank, and Bank of the Philippine Islands.

Lacson said some companies, meanwhile, have committed to get directly involved in rehabilitation efforts. He said 9 sponsors have agreed to take the lead in the reconstruction and rehabilitation works in 16 of the 24 typhoon-hit clustered areas.

Ten “sectoral sponsors” have also committed to support the needs in the education, health, housing and livelihood sectors.

“In between, we have been getting generous amounts of supports from multilaterals, private firms and other organizations from all corners of the world – from our neighbors in Asia to the western world,” he said.

Following allegations that some officials earned kickbacks from overpriced bunkhouses, Lacson reiterated his vow to go after officials who will pocket funds meant for rehabilitation and reconstruction projects.

Lacson said part of efforts to ensure transparency is the creation of a map-based website showing where the donations went.

“While I adhere to a policy of inclusion, I will not hesitate to go after people regardless of political affiliations who will put their personal interests and greed above the mission and goals set forth by the president,” he said.

Lacson added the delivery of the “minimum must,” such as the construction of schools, gymnasiums, and multi-purpose halls resilient enough to serve as emergency evacuation centers for residents, will be done in the coming weeks.

Lacson admitted that given the limitations, the massive task of rebuilding towns and cities flattened by Yolanda is a daunting one.

He said during his meeting with Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, the Indonesian Senior Minister who oversaw the rehabilitation of Aceh, Indonesia following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the latter disclosed that coordination among concerned entities emerged as a problem in the rehabilitation efforts.

“Coming as it did from somebody who was coordinating from a position of near absolute authority spelled out in a decree issued by the president to make sure that he succeed in his gargantuan task, I keep on wondering how I will handle my own version of coordination while armed only with a presidential memorandum order?” he said.

“This compounds, if not, exacerbates, the job of reconstruction.”

Nonetheless, Lacson assured the public that the government continues to “untangle the knots created by political squabbling and personal differences.” (MNS)

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