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MGB to designate ‘no build zones’ in Tacloban, Bohol

THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB) is set to map out “no build zones” in Tacloban City, Leyte, as part of the a comprehensive rehabilitation plan to rebuild communities wiped out by Supertyphoon Yolanda (international code name Haiyan).

MGB Director Leo Jasareno said a five-man team will be sent to Tacloban City next week to determine which areas will be off-limits to building construction. The team is composed of licensed geologists and experts in the field, he said.

Jasareno, the team is tasked to come up with recommendations after identifying areas that are prone to various geological hazards such as floods and landslides, and more important, storm surge.

Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson has asked the help of the DENR and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to define the “no build zones” or legal easement required by law so that the agency can clearly define who need permanent relocation sites.

The DPWH, just like in the case of Typhoon Sendong, will mark on ground the no build zones as soon as possible.

Jasareno said the task will be completed within a week at the earliest, or two weeks at the latest, depending on the situation.

He said the team’s take off point is the multihazard map that is now available for Tacloban City, as well as the geohazard maps developed by the MGB prior to Yolanda.

Another team has earlier been sent to Bohol to map out reported sinkholes that were discovered after the 7.2-magnitude earthquake last month.

The team, he said, is expected to identify sinkholes that could endanger the lives of the people.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) is stepping up relief drives in earthquake- and typhoon-devastated areas and, at the same time, planning the rehabilitation of communities with the help of various agencies.


ILO appeals for more aid

INTERNATIONAL Labor Organization (ILO) Country Director Lawrence Jeff Johnson appealed for more international aid as the United Nations allocated an initial $301 million for the emergency-employment program of displaced Filipinos in the typhoon-ravaged areas in the Visayas.

Johnson said more than 5.2 million workers were affected and lost their livelihood temporarily or permanently.

He explained that since livelihood component is the least funded or only 6 percent of the $301-million UN Flash Appeal, more funding assistance is needed to help displaced workers in the Visayas get back on their feet. So far, the UN has raised $270 million out of the $301-million flash appeal issued following the super typhoon in the Visayas.

He said the rehabilitation of displaced workers make it more urgent as 2.3 million of these workers are in the vulnerable employment, whose dire conditions have been aggravated by the devastation as they lack social and medical insurance enjoyed by regularly employed workers.

The ILO is targeting 290,000 vulnerable workers in the emergency employment program. He said the ILO has deployed six teams to the most affected areas that include Tacloban City, Roxas City, Busuanga in Palawan, Northern Cebu, Negros Occidental and Bohol, which is just recovering from a massive earthquake.

“Emergency employment must be at the forefront of disaster response,” Johnson said in a statement over the weekend. “The last thing we want is for these workers under the emergency employment are to fall victims again as they start to rebuild their communities. These people have been through pain of loss and trauma so we have to ensure that they are not left vulnerable and exploited.”

ILO figures showed that the UN Response Action plan released an initial $301 million, of which $24 million is intended for the ILO emergency-employment program.

At the same time, Johnson said the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is scheduled to release $23 million for emergency assistance, which is coordinating with the ILO’s livelihood and employment plans for displaced workers in typhoon-hit provinces.

Meanwhile, Chairman Patricia Licuanan of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) issued a memorandum on Friday directing all public and private higher education institutions (HEIs) to accommodate students from typhoon-ravaged provinces in the Visayas “on humanitarian reasons.”

In her memorandum to all HEI presidents, Licuanan said among assistance HEIs could extend include “admission, for humanitarian reasons, of all affected enrollees and transferees who are unable to present proper academic records due to disruption of HEI operations pending the resumption of their regular operations and proper processing of documents.”

Licuanan said colleges and universities can also be used as temporary shelters of typhoon-affected students.

They were urged to extend financial assistance for food, water and accommodation and provide access to counseling services.


US legislators vow support for typhoon-rehab efforts

THE Philippines can count on the support of the US House of Representatives when it starts undertaking the critical stage of rehabilitating areas that were devastated by Yolanda.

This was the assurance given to Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose L. Cuisia Jr. by American lawmakers during a briefing on typhoon-relief efforts that was called on Thursday (Friday in Manila) for members of the US-Philippines Friendship Caucus and the Congressional Asia-Pacific American Caucus (Capac) in the House of Representatives.

The briefing was organized by US-Philippines Friendship Caucus Co-Chairmen Robert Scott (Democrat-Virginia) and Darrell Issa (Republican-California) and Capac Chairman Judy Chu (Democrat-California).

“It is extremely important that members of Congress know how critical our nation’s support can be during this time of need. The Philippines has long been a good friend of the United States and Congress must ensure that aid is effectively reaching all affected communities,” Scott said.

“While the response is being carried out in a very effective way, there is no doubt that the recovery process will be a long one,” Scott added. “It will be important for Congress to remain engaged to ensure a speedy and effective recovery for our friends in the Philippines.”

The briefing was attended by the following members of the House of Representatives: Tammy Duckworth (Democrat-Illinois); Judy Chu (Democrat-California); Mike Honda (Democrat-California); Trent Franks (Republican-Arizona); Colleen Hanabusa (Democrat-Hawaii); Al Green (Democrat-Texas); Scott Peters (Democrat-California); Henry Waxman (Democrat-California); Susan Davis (Democrat-California); Jackie Speier (Democrat-California); Charles Rangel (Democrat-New York); Sheila Jackson-Lee (Democrat-Texas); Ruben Hinojosa (Democrat-Texas); and Joe Courtney (Democrat-Connecticut).

For his part, Honda said: “I have witnessed in my own district, across our nation, and around the world the resilient, inspiring and enduring Filipino spirit. To my brothers and sisters in the Philippines—my heart and prayers are with you and your families as you rebuild and renew your lives.”

“I will continue to work with the Filipino and Filipino-American community, our administration and my colleagues in Congress to make sure that relief and recovery are swift and effective and that our partnership and friendship are unwavering,” he added.

In his remarks, Cuisia thanked the congressmen for their support for the Philippines. He cited in particular, Republican Rep. Ed Royce of California, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Relations, Democrat Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, Honda and Speier for introducing two separate resolutions expressing sympathies for the Philippines and support for the much-needed relief and rehabilitation efforts.

“I have met with a number of the members in the past days and the message from all of you has been encouraging and heartwarming. We are reassured that we can count on your support as we face this challenge of bringing back normalcy to the communities in the Central Visayas,” Cuisia said.

“This gathering today just shows us that the United States is indeed committed to stand by the Philippines as we work toward rebuilding the lives and communities that were ravaged by the typhoon,” Cuisia added.

The briefing was also attended by Nancy E. Lindborg, assistant administrator of the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance of the US Agency for International Development, who briefed congressmen on her recent visit to Tacloban City.

The legislators were also briefed by US Marine Corps Col. Chris Starling on the US-led relief efforts following the typhoon that left 5,209 people dead, 23,404 injured and 1,611 missing in 575 towns and 57 cities in 44 provinces.

Cuisia said the immediate and comprehensive support extended by the US government contributed significantly to the efforts of the Philippine government to come to the aid of the almost 10 million Filipinos who were affected by the typhoon.

“The generosity of spirit demonstrated by your government and your people once again underscored the depth of the alliance that has been the backbone of our relations over the past 60 years,” Cuisia said.

“The impressive demonstration of the full range of the United States’s humanitarian assistance and disaster-relief capabilities has not only helped the Philippines, but has also sent a powerful message of US leadership and commitment to the region,” he added.


Relief drive gets boost

TELEPERFORMANCE has boosted the relief and rehabilitation drive for the victims of Yolanda by mobilizing its corporate social responsibility arm, Citizen of the World, and linking up with the Red Cross and Feed the Children.

All the subsidiaries of the Teleperformance, a global business-process outsourcing company, have also provided humanitarian assistance to the calamity victims through cash and donations in kind.

Regarded as the world’s strongest storm to make landfall, Yolanda brought massive devastation in the provinces of Leyte, Samar, Bohol, Cebu, Bohol and Panay.

The United Nations has estimated that 11.3 million people, or more than 10 percent of the total Philippine population, were affected.

More than 5,000 bodies have been recovered thus far, but the total number of the displaced has exceeded 4 million, Teleperformance said.

As of November 21, a total of $10,400 has been raised by local employees through voluntary one-time payroll deduction.

Donations in kind, which consist of food, water, medicines, clothing, footwear and blankets, have reached more than $32,700 in value.

In addition to employee contributions, a check for $4,500 was turned over to the Philippine Red Cross, as part of the initial commitment for calamity assistance.

The “Apply for a Cause” campaign was likewise introduced, whereby a P50 ($1.15) donation will be made to the Philippine Red Cross for every person who walks in and applies in any of the Teleperformance recruitment centers in the Philippines.

On the regional front, $30,000 was donated to Feed the Children, a youth-focused community development organization, to help disadvantaged children in the Visayas.

David Rizzo, Teleperformance Asia-Pacific president, expressed his sympathies for the typhoon victims.

“On behalf of the Teleperformance Group, we send our thoughts of hope and recovery to those impacted by Typhoon Yolanda. We have witnessed the massive devastation to the homes, the communities and businesses in the Visayas region, and Teleperformance is offering our humble support to help rekindle hope and rebuild the lives of the survivors,” Rizzo said.

Brian Johnson, Teleperformance Philippines managing director, conveyed his appreciation for the solidarity and compassion shown by employee-volunteers.

“It is our honor to once again be of service to the community. These are challenging times and our employees have responded quickly to raise significant funds and living necessities to support the needs of the victims. We are proud of our team’s generosity and how they have come together to deliver this much-needed assistance,” Johnson concluded.


Aklan suffers P1.4-B damage

AKLAN province—where Boracay Island is located and where the Ati-atihan, the mother of all Philippine festivals is celebrated—is also raising its little voice for help.

Not known to many, because national attention has been focused on Tacloban and Roxas, the cities of the Romualdezes and the Roxases, Aklan was also affected by the strongest typhoon to hit the country.

Aklan’s 17 towns, including Boracay Island, and its 442,880 population did not only suffer from insufficient relief goods for the survival of the victims of Yolanda’s wrath, but the challenges it now face in rebuilding the damage and in restoring what was lost.

Aklan Gov. Florencio T. Miraflores said as per partial Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) damage-assessment report, the typhoon destroyed P1.4 billion worth of private and public properties and infrastructure. In addition, 12 persons were killed.

Miraflores said a total of 47,153 houses were partially damaged while 37,967 were totally destroyed, affecting 94,659 families or 434,411 persons.

Damage to agriculture has amounted to P925,534,074; infrastructure, P477,759 and public utilities, P35,605,000 or a total of P1,441,889,824

Damage caused by the typhoon to the Aklan State University (ASU) was estimated at P30 million.

Former Aklan congressman Allen Salas Quimpo, now president of the Northwestern Visayan Colleges (NVC), aired an appeal for the government agencies to relax their requirements in the processing of loan applications to the victims of calamity and be helpful to them in rebuilding their lives and properties.

On Boracay Island, the Boracay Foundation Inc. (BFI) has asked President Aquino to order the immediately restoration of electric power supply to the island. Dionie J. Salme, BFI president, said restoration of electric power to the tourists’ destination island will normalize the arrival of tourists in the tourism capital of the country.

The celebration of the 50th founding anniversary of the Federation of the Provincial Press Clubs of the Philippines Inc. (FPPCP) which will feature the First Countryside Press Congress from December 5 to 8 at the Aklan State University and on Boracay Island will be moved from January 20 to 24, 2014.


UE Alumni to donate reunion proceeds

THE University of the East Alumni Association Inc. (UEAAI) officers vowed to donate part of the proceeds of the 65th UE Alumni Grand Reunion to survivors in the areas devastated Yolanda.

The UEAAI officers are calling for cooperation from their fellow UE alumni to take part in this meaningful fund-raising reunion event. Their generosity would make this fund-raising activity successful and enable our UEAAI to realize its objective to help the Yolanda victims, according to the Reunion Steering Committee Chairman Alfred Santiago. As part of the UEAAI’s humanitarian effort, “Part of the reunion proceeds will be donated to the survivors in Leyte, Samar, Bohol, Capiz, among other distressed communities where Yolanda wrought havoc in those coastal areas,” Santiago said.

A donation drive is also ongoing. UE alumni could bring their donations in kind during the reunion at the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club on December 7. Donations in kind may be clothes, blankets, sleeping mats, kitchen and dining utensils, canned goods, can openers, instant coffee, ready-to-eat meals, sugar, emergency lights, flashlight, matches, footwear and hygiene kits (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, soap shampoo).  Donors who prefer to donate cash could do so and forward their cash donations to the UEAAI Secretariat at the UE Marketing Department or at the reunion’s venue on December 7. 

With Recto Mercene and Marvyn Benaning






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