Foreign aid for quake victims mulled

A resettlement being built in Marawi City. (TFBM)

President Rodrigo Duterte is currently arranging with foreign organizations offering aid to the Philippines the rehabilitation of earthquake-struck areas.

“He is searching for modes (of rehabilitation) if it will be public-private partnership for those in the downtown area to fast-track or how he will accept foreign aid,” senatorial candidate Francis Tolentino said referring to Pampanga, the most-affected area of the 6.1 magnitude earthquake occurred last Monday.

“There are a lot offering foreign aid and the president is currently on that stage,” he added.

The former presidential political adviser reiterated the call for the creation of a department that will handle all disaster-related activities.

“Since day one, we should have the Department of Disaster Management that will be in charge of all the rehabilitation and recovery because for now, we have different agencies (handling the operations), if you have one department that will focus on this, it will be faster (to respond),” he explained.

President Duterte has asked Congress to create a bill that will establish a department focusing on the disaster preparedness and rehabilitation during his State of the Nation Address in 2018.

The House of Representatives has passed a bill creating the Department of Disaster Resilience. However, the Senate has yet to pass a similar bill.

Tolentino told the Daily Tribune that the creation of the said department is “long overdue.”

“We cannot just react to an event and we have to be proactive in saving lives. I have seen too much of misery and death,” he said.

He said the President’s pronouncement on disregarding the rehabilitation of Marawi City was just part of his “light moments.”

Tolentino, who was with the president when he made remark, explained that Duterte has uttered a lot of jokes during that time.

“He was about to leave during that time and I would surmise, it is part of his light moments because he was just asking for a report from an HUDCC (Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council) representative,” he said in an interview.

Tolentino also connected the creation of a new department on disaster resilience should not limit its functions to natural calamities but also cover the rehabilitation of war-affected areas such as Zamboanga and Marawi cities.

“Whether it is man-made or natural calamity, we really need one agency that will focus on rehabilitation,” he said.