Palo, Leyte – Presidential Assistant (PA) for Special Concerns Atty. Wendel E. Avisado, Oversight Official of Yolanda Rehabilitation Projects, spearheaded the conduct of the Regional Briefing and Orientation for the Provincial Grassroots Consultations in Yolanda-affected areas in Region VIII on 20 February 2017 at the Felipina Hall, NEDA Regional Office VIII, Palo, Leyte. In attendance were Provincial Governors, Chairs and members of the five Yolanda clusters (Infrastructure, Social Service, Livelihood, Resettlement, and Support) of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), and the Community of Yolanda Survivors and Partners (CYSP).

The said briefing was a prelude to a series of Grassroots Consultations in Yolanda-affected areas in Region VIII. This provides an opportunity for the OPASC and regional stakeholders to take stock of the current situation before going down to the field.

NEDA VIII Regional Director Bonifacio G. Uy warmly welcomed all participants to the event, especially PA Avisado, and pointed out that this intervention would be instrumental in addressing the remaining challenging concerns in Yolanda reconstruction and rehabilitation. Director Uy enthusiastically conveyed the news that eight municipalities of the region, previously excluded from Yolanda Comprehensive Recovery and Rehabilitation Plan (CRRP) resettlement projects, will be provided around 9,716 housing units with an approved funding of PhP3 billion. He emphasized the region’s record-setting 12.4% Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) growth rate in 2016 and reduction of poverty incidence by 6.5 percentage points from 2012 to 2015. He expressed his optimism that these recent developments will not only give justice to the Yolanda-affected families in the region, but will also help the regional economy sustain its economic growth and poverty reduction.

In his message, PA Avisado provided an overview of the Provincial Grassroots Consultations. He emphasized that this endeavor is aimed to hear the sentiments of the people on the ground in order to identify the bottlenecks that hinder Yolanda project implementation, so that necessary actions and interventions can be made to fast-track the implementation of remaining Yolanda projects.

He said the grassroots consultation will provide the much-need space to, once and for all, address all problems concerning Yolanda reconstruction, especially on resettlement.
Director Kim Robert de Leon, also from the OPASC, presented the mechanics and schedule of the Provincial Grassroots Consultations from March to April 2018.

In the afternoon session, Chairpersons of the five clusters of the IATF presented the financial and physical accomplishment reports of projects under their respective clusters. Each presentation was followed by an open forum clarifying concerns and issues on the implementation of cluster projects. Ultimately, the participating agencies expressed their utmost support to the conduct of the Provincial Grassroots Consultations in Yolanda-Affected Areas in Region VIII.

The first leg of the series of Provincial Grassroots Consultations was set on 19 and 20 March 2018 in Tacloban City.

Al Rae Zabala, YPMO, NEDA VIII