Eastern Visayas – Presidential Assistant (PA) for Special Concerns Atty. Wendel E. Avisado, Oversight Official of Yolanda Rehabilitation Projects, conducted nine (9) grassroots consultations in the five (5) Yolanda-affected provinces (Leyte, Southern Leyte, Biliran, Samar, and Eastern Samar) of Eastern Visayas in the months of March and April 2018.

The series of consultations began in Tacloban City on 19 and 20 March 2018. The succeeding consultations were held in Basey, Samar on 10 April 2018; Carigara and Isabel in Leyte on 11-12 April 2018; Silago, Southern Leyte on 16 April 2018; and Naval, Biliran on 17 April 2018. The series concluded in Guiuan and Balangiga in Eastern Samar on 26 and 27 April 2018, respectively. On the average, each of the nine (9) events was attended by 120 participants comprised of the Local Chief Executives of participating provinces, cities, and municipalities, Chairpersons and member-agencies of the five (5) Yolanda Clusters of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), NGOs, and beneficiaries of the National Housing Authority (NHA) resettlement projects. NEDA VIII, as the Chair of the Regional Project Monitoring Committee (RPMC) of Region VIII, was requested by PA Avisado to assist in facilitating the said consultations.

PA Avisado warmly welcomed the delegates in the said consultations and pointed out the motivation behind such initiative. He emphasized President Duterte’s desire to find out what ails the implementation of the Yolanda recovery and rehabilitation projects, and the President’s intention to address the problem from the grassroots level to, once and for all, deliver what has been long overdue. He gave his assurance that the output of the consultations would reach the President, and the information gathered would be significant in the formulation of post-disaster interventions in the future.

The consultation proper began with the four (4) Cluster Chairs (Resettlement, Infrastructure, Livelihood, Social Services) of the Yolanda IATF presenting their interventions in the covered municipalities.

The Cluster presentations were followed by an open forum, which gave the beneficiaries and LGUs in attendance the opportunity to raise issues and concerns on the implementation of Yolanda projects in the communities they represent. The concerned agencies promptly responded and committed to act on those issues. PA Avisado assured that those concerns will be brought to the attention of concerned agencies and the Office of the President for prompt resolution.

Thereafter, site visits were conducted to the resettlement projects to validate said issues and concerns.

Notable pronouncements during the consultations were: 1.) The NHA resettlement project is under a usufruct agreement which entitles beneficiaries the free use of housing units, but the lot will remain as government property; 2.) Free individual service connections for electrification will be provided through the National Electrification Administration (NEA), and there is a possibility of refunding expenses incurred for individual service connections prior to the subsidy; and 3.) Funds for new and terminated resettlement projects will be downloaded to some of the concerned LGUs for implementation.

Al Rae Zabala, YPMO, NEDA VIII