Urging legislators and local government units to act now, Governor Joseph C. Cua last week pushed for the standardization of typhoon-resistant evacuation shelters and public infrastructures to ensure that the projects can withstand all kinds of calamities.
In his address before the Sangguniang Panlalawigan on Jan. 18, 2021, the provincial chief executive made the appeal as his administration moved forward to a proactive disaster preparedness response.
“It is no longer a question that we are indeed resilient people. Resiliency alone is not enough. But resiliency entails learning from our past experiences and not tolerating inaction,” the governor stressed.
He also cited the need to be stringent with the standards of various government projects to ensure their quality and to nurture a brand of resiliency that hinges on a proper, effective and efficient system that involves everyone and prepares the province for future adversities.
He called on his counterparts at the municipal level to invest in the establishment and strengthening of their communications system, noting that even before super typhoon Rolly struck, some LGUs could not report their status and updates immediately due to lack of radio communications.
Recalling the experience and damages wrought by Rolly to agriculture, public infrastructures and private homes, Cua said the abaca industry alone sustained P1.6 billion in damages, with the storm destroying or damaging a total of 43,293 homes and affecting 156,861 individuals, including six deaths.
He likewise expressed the province’s sincerest gratitude to President Rodrigo Duterte for sending the Office of Civil Defense together with its VSAT team to temporarily restore communications at the capitol, allowing it to appeal for aid to various sectors in the country and abroad.
The same gratitude was reserved by the governor to various government agencies, the national and local media, the city governments of Pasig, Cebu, Manila, Davao, Valenzuela, Sorsogon, Baguio, Bayugan, Ozamiz, Cagayan de Oro, and Dagupan, the provinces of Pangasinan, Leyte, Surigao del Norte, Negros Occidental, Southern Samar and Sorsogon, and the municipalities of Surallah in South Cotabato, Sinabacan in Misamis Oriental, Tubungan in Iloilo and Tabuk in Kalinga Apayao for sending much-needed assistance.
He also cited the invaluable aid sent to Catanduanes brought by Sen. Dick Gordon, Sen. Win Gatchalian, Sen. Migz Zubiri, Sen. Francis Tolentino, Sen. Manny Pacquiao, Sen. Bong Go, Sec. Francisco Duque, Sec. William Dar, USec. Wimpy Fuentebella, Sec. Rolly Bautista and Sec. Harry Roque.
For their roles in disaster response, the governor thanked the Emergency Operations Center teams, countless non-government organizations such as Philippine Red Cross, Save the Children, USAID, World Vision, World Food Program,Humanity Inclusion, Simon of Cyrene, Samaritan’s Purse, Ayala Foundation, Air Asia, EDUCO, Tindog Catanduanes, Bangon Catanduanes, Ando Cua Foundation which offered free logistic services to individuals, as well as organizations and agencies such as PNP, PCG, Philippine Air Force, Philippine Navy, AREMAR Construction and many more who donated goods to the province.
A total of P47 million in financial assistance was received by the province, with the bulk allocated to the rehabilitation and recovery plan, including the shelter program.
As of Jan. 18, 2021, he disclosed, a total of 179,000 food packs have been distributed to 76,000 families in the 11 towns, as well as 2,000 laminated sacks and hygiene kits, and 12,000 pieces of GI sheets with more to come.
He added that with the help of the Power Restoration Rapid Deployment (PRRD) Task Force Kapatid, 77% of households in the province already have electricity, with an estimated 81% lighted by the end of the month.
The provincial government will resume distribution of bond paper to different schools affected by the typhoon and await the release of the P100 million from the Department of Agriculture for the Cash-for-Work program for abaca farmers. It has also submitted a proposal for a shelter program to the Ayala Foundation which has committed to help in the recovery and rehabilitation program.
Cua said his administration will continue to recognize individuals who opened their homes to shelter their neighbors during the typhoon’s onslaught, in a program dubbed as “Sirong sa Harong” that he hopes would be emulated by the rest of the country.
In her response, Vice Governor Shirley Abundo assured that the SP would remain as a staunch partner of the provincial government in implementing its programs and projects.
“We will never wish for you to fall, because kapag hindi ka naging successful, lahat po kami hindi successful. So we will always wish for you to succeed,” she stressed, adding that the province’s leaders need to stand up and work to bring the economy back to its robust condition.
Abundo agreed with Gov. Cua’s perspective that the island and its people should not depend on their resiliency alone because the needs of the constituents should be provided as soon as possible.