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EDITORIAL - Like a relay when the starter stumbles

The country marked the 4th anniversary of Yolanda last Wednesday. But instead of the commemoration dwelling on inspirational tales of survival and moving on, it continued the narrative of anger, frustration and despair. And that is because four years after Yolanda, rehabilitation is still far from where it should already be, given the amount of time that has elapsed.

It boggles the mind how things could stand the way they are when rehabilitation of the victims of the greatest storm to hit land on record was supposed to be top priority not just of this government but of the various aid agencies and non-government organizations that came to pitch in and help. Very clearly something went haywire along the way.

To put things into perspective, this is what happened right after Yolanda. It was the foreign first responders from friendly governments, aid agencies, NGOs, religious organizations, and volunteers who first hit the ground in the disaster areas across the Visayas. A total of more than 30 countries came to help. There was virtually no local government to speak of in the early days, and understandably so. For everyone was a victim.

But the national government was virtually nowhere except for the perfunctory gestures that did not mean anything. The talk at the time was that the national government, seeing the massiveness of the international response, held back. Where it got itself involved, especially in the distribution of relief packs, it only managed to arouse controversy, as when the air was rife with allegations of switching foreign goods with local counterparts.

On the need to rebuild lives by first rebuilding homes, the government appointed a housing czar. But he resigned in no time, and to this day no one really knows why. But people can already surmise why just by taking note of the fact that today, four years after Yolanda, housing for the victims continues to be elusive, insulting, and downright ridiculous.

A new government has since taken over three years after Yolanda. Clearly the Yolanda priorities have been overtaken by other commitments and different needs. Not that the new government has forgotten, but it is difficult to reconstruct the jar after it has been broken. So even if the new government has the time, the money, and the resolve, it can never hope to catch up with the requirements the previous government criminally allowed to mature and lapse in the three years it still had.

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