Reconstruction czar required

Reconstruction czar required
President Aquino surveying airport damages after Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban City.

After a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, President Aquino approved in principle a three-stage reconstruction plan for provinces devastated by Supertyphoon "Yolanda."

But three weeks after the storm struck land in Eastern Visayas, there was still no one in charge of the colossal rehabilitation job.

Government relief workers were still collecting dead bodies even as the official death toll increased with the recovery of more corpses buried under the ruins of Tacloban City, one of the worst hit in the region.

Malacañang spokesperson Edwin Lacierda reported a so-called Yolanda Recovery and Rehabilitation Plan, presented by Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan and drafted by a planning (not action) task force.

It called for three phases of implementation: "Provide immediate assistance to affected areas; expand initiatives and programs in the medium term; and reach full recovery and rehabilitation in the long term."

According to newspaper reports on the Cabinet meeting, the first since Yolanda's landfall on Nov. 8, the plan did not indicate how long it would take to complete, and the Cabinet had no idea about the costs and where to source the financing of the project.

Worst of all, the administration did not say who would be in charge of this massive reconstruction effort, which is at present horribly disorganized and uncoordinated among local government units and central government agencies-the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Department of National Defence, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, all competing with one another.

The administration's relief effort alone is as disorganized and slow to respond as its machinery was when Yolanda flattened Tacloban.

All we are told, according to newspaper reports, is that Mr. Aquino has approved in principle many of the items cited by Balisacan, but asked the latter and other pertinent Cabinet members for more specific details before providing formal approval.

Other unnamed Cabinet officials were reported to have indicated that the plan would most likely be funded by foreign and local sources. Lacierda said the Cabinet task force that drafted the plan would meet with the President today to "present further refinements to the plan, especially to the immediate actions to be taken."

That's another delay. Mr. Aquino then reportedly breezed out of the Cabinet meeting, the way he stormed out of a meeting with officials on Day One in Tacloban, in anger after being told that the death toll in Tacloban alone would reach 10,000.

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