A Call for Support & Social Responsibility for Presidential Assistance for Restoration and Revitalization of ” YOLANDA” ( Haiyan) Storm Surge Devastated Areas

The Presidential Assistance Restorations and Revitalization is in need for our urgent support and help. We need to Unite, as Filipinos, for the needs of our Fellowmen, and Stand in Solidarity  as a Nation.

The Filipino, is known for fostering the ” BAYANIHAN” spirit. Therefore, the challenge for each one to help restore, reconstruct, renew and revitalize Yolanda affected areas is a matter of Justice, and Social Responsibility.

This task, is very complex, that covers a huge land area, extending from Samar, Leyte ,  Panay, Northern Cebu, Palawan, and all the Visayas Region.

This is ” mind bugling” and will be a  mammoth project , bordering to what critics and the pessimists would brand us impossible. However, I strongly believe that if each one, particularly the top 1000 corporations, Tycoons, Multinational Corporations, Top developers, contructors, professionals, and all private and public sector agencies would contribute and do their part,  with a unconditional commitment, the outcome will surely be an outstanding success. This worthwhile and indispensable project , will  prove to the world and international community, that the Filipino is indeed resilient and strong with the sense of solidarity, and social responsibility.

The task ahead will not be easy. There are at least very moment internal and external forces that are out to block,  put obstacles ,  and make things difficult in carrying out the  task of reconstructing the Visayas region.

The negative challenges and  bothersome  issues , being raised by some ” antagonistic” persons, who are critical, with a hostile attitude, that is deeply rooted by pride, self interest, greed, envy or jealousy, political agendas, corruption or simply with a diabolical tendency ,  of enjoying to see the failure of others.

That is why the PARR has to be lead by a very strong man with the will to carry out the mission and objectives of the PARR. History shows that great leaders  who have built what was impossible,  had the necessary qualities , like conquerors or , emperors , military generals , that are  tough , with true grit. We need Leaders, that  must be willing to die or sacrifice oneself for love of country having the patriotic  spirit, passion, and heroism to get the job done.

I am confident that the appointed secretary of PARR Senator Ping Lacson , who is the man of the hour,  and a capable leader. But like all leaders and organizations, leaders depend on their assistants being a colonel, major, lieutenants, and field sergeants who will take the frontline to achieve the mission and objective – no matter what.

Clearly the undersecretary by the person of outstanding ” guru ” in real estate planning, property economics and a vast experience in project development are all  the positive traits, qualifications and capabilities of  the undersecretary Danilo Antonio.

To be ” Lean and mean ” is the theme of PARR . With a Simple organization, no budget, and with out legislative powers.  The PARR has a skeleton force , working and networking with volunteers, on a 24/7 , around the clock basis. They are ” hands on ” and determined to get the Job done.

In his presentation last December 30,2013 undersecretary Antonio shared his thoughts about how together with secretary Lacson,  plan to carry out , and achieve their objectives. In a practical,  down to earth strategy. This can be summarized as follows:

1. To get the private sector involve consisting of committed professionals, development corporations, contructors, and all other discipline needed for the development of the Vissyas region in a holistic master plan.

2. To work closely and coordinate support and assist the local government units affected by the Yolanda tragedy

3. Let each committed volunteer source their own funds , by soliciting the necessary donations,  grants and resources to cover their costs, professional fees out of pocket expenses.

4. Private initiatives are welcome but it must be, in coordination and in harmony with the general master plan and the objectives of PARR.

5. It is encouraged that volunteer groups focused their efforts in specific territorial limits, areas, municipalities or cities using the “divide and conquer” strategy.

6. Finally, individual land owner whose properties we destroyed , farms washed out, coconut plantations flattened to the grounds, and lost their homes, businesses, and structures should reach out to specific volunteer groups for the redevelopment, reconstruction, replanting, and making best use of their lands following zonal Guidelines, quality control, building standards for safety and security should another storm surge hit the region.

Yesterday, January 7, , i met with Arch. Jun Palafox, the appointed master planner. He is internationally renowned and has the necessary professional prestige to conceptualize, create and design a Master Plan. The vision of Arch. Palafox is to transform a devastated region, into a world class modern metropolis, with  tourism oriented projects, hotels, entertainment and  recreations centers , Shopping Centers and Malls, Schools, Hospitals, Churches,  And other Cultural and Social oriented Institutions.

The Economic Base of the Visayas is that of agriculture and fisheries but these needs to be revive as Dr. Rolando Dy of the University of Asia and the Pacific, suggest that the restoration “calls for outside the box strategic thinking”. Dr. Rolando Dy’s editorial, the Businessworld, claims that”millions of coconut trees were toppled,thousands of small boats and large areas of fish fonds destroyed.” He reports that the Philippine Coconut Authority estimated damage at 10,000 hectares.

However, industry players said that the damage is highly conservative. This is reflected by the fact that the world market prices reacted as price rose to p1,350/ton of coconut oil from $1,100/ton before Yolanda,  a jump of 22% in prices.  While, Irrigated rice areas totaled 500,000 hectares covering a large part in  Leyte and Iloilo, which needs to be repaired.

I believe that this is an opportunity to Build , ”  smart cities” but integrated with and  including agricultural and marine zones. There will be a need for a strong infrastructure backbone, set -up  mass transit systems, with the future in mind, say, a long term , 20 year plan. We can start now with Housing, Hospitals, Schools and other Institution Structures. The Development of  sea ports and airports, are indispensable. It will be good for the City of Ormoc, to be  designated and transformed into a  export processing zone or PEZA.

These are dreams, a wish list, but now we need to face the sad reality of conflicts, corruption, crime, and greed of the worst kind… That of cheating, taking advantage, and stealing from the poor victims!

Today, Jan. 8, 2014,  the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported at the front page: ” Expert confirms shelter subpar, Bunkhouses unliveable, says Palafox”

Architect and urban planner  Jun Palafox shared his  frustration and dismay in his observations of the bunkhouses built for victims of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” in Tacloban City, confirming an international assessment these were substandard.  ” I’m reminded of saying, ‘we build monuments for the dead but we can’t even provide decent housing for the living.'”

Arch. Jun Palafox said that typhoon-like Yolanda may happen,  again, it is better if evacuation centers are in hospitals, and to construe sturdy  structures . These Evacuation Centers,  which may simply perform their task as an emergency shelter, will be ready to serve the public because the 24/7 medical facility continues to function.

The facility should be located properly and they have to be constructed or be done using international standards and the universal de sign fitted for persons with disabilities. All These things have to be considered, reported by Undersecretary Danny Antonio .

In a write up last December, 2013 soon after the devastation of storm surge Yolanda, Mr. Takehiko Nakao, President of the Asia Development Bank, wrote an editorial, entitled “After Yolanda: The road to recovery”, he stated that “given the scale of the disaster(Yolanda), we should not underestimate the significant challenges the Government faces in the longer term. In our view, the process of reconstruction should be guided by the following principles:

First is strong leadership and coordination. The Government has taken actions to coordinate the efforts of its own agencies, multilateral and bilateral partners, civil society organizations and the private sector, and President Benigno Aquino III has a appointed a ‘reconstruction czar’. The Government needs to sustain sound coordination for the duration.

Second is transparency. The Government has set up the Foreign Aid Transparency Fund (FAITH) to allow the public to monitor foreign assistant flows. Other elements of transparency should include stringent anti-corruption measures to ensure that public and private contribution will benefit the most affected people, a robust monitoring and evaluation system; and a well-functioning system to address grievances.

Third is the challenge of ‘building back better’. From his experience, it has become clearer that natural hazard risks are a serious challenge in the Philippines and elsewhere in Asia, and need to be systematically mitigated. Otherwise, the hard-won gains from development are lost in one instance. This could involve rebuilding essential public facilities, particularly schools and hospitals, to withstand the severest win as well as earthquakes and other hazard risks.

Fourth is to ensure equity in the reconstruction process. The damage to livelihoods is large and geographically widespread. Any support – whether for getting people back on their feet, for housing or for timely education and health services – must be designated and distributed on an equitable basis across all affected people and communities.

Leading to the first month anniversary of the disaster, the Government has taken a number of concrete measures. By confirming its commitment to close coordination, transparency and good governance, I am confident that the Government can secure the trust of all partners to join hands in his journey toward recovery. “

I would like to end , quoting Dr. Rolando Dy, from his MAP INSIGHTS editorial in Business World :

“Though the crisis has spawned numerous problems, it also presents us with opportunities. Rehabilitation needs a long term plan. There are short term, medium term and long term strategies and key result areas that need to be formulated to achieve the objective of sustainable rural incomes hiring technical experts on land sustainability is imperative.”

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