‘No-build zone policy not applicable in some Yolanda-hit areas’

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery Panfilo Lacson clarified over the weekend that the no-build zone could not be applicable in some areas. 

The no-build zone policy prohibits structures within 40 meters from the coastline in all areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda last November.

Lacson’s spokesperson Karen Jimeno quoted Lacson as saying that “a blanket application of the no-build zone will not address exceptional circumstances and may be impractical for certain areas.”

Jimeno said in a statement that areas with fishing industries or tourism-oriented businesses still need to build structures within 40 meters from the coastline, while other areas have high elevation and are not susceptible to storm surge.

She said Lacson has recommended the creation of distinctions between what he calls “Safe Zones, Unsafe Zones and No Dwelling Zones” that would have to be identified later.

“This would require mapping all the areas and determining the particular risks for each area (for example, inundation or landslides),” a portion of the statement read.

The no-build zones would fall into the category of unsafe zones where the concerned local government units would issue the appropriate ordinance with respect to land use.

For unsafe zones that are needed for livelihood such as areas where fishermen build structures, Lacson proposes to consider them as “No Dwelling Zones,” according to Jimeno.

“This means that structures necessary for livelihood or commercial purposes can be allowed on no dwelling zone areas, but residential structures will be prohibited,” the statement added.

In case of an impending calamity, people in the no dwelling zones would be subjected to an emergency evacuation.

“There is no compromise especially when it comes to municipal halls and other government buildings in unsafe zones. How can LGUs respond to calamities when they are themselves susceptible to high risks when a calamity strikes?” Lacson said.

Lacson emphasized that they would assist the government and the private sector in “building back better.”

“This would require building in areas that would not make structures at risk of being destroyed, or lives at risk of being lost” he added.

Graduates to take ‘validating tests’

The Department of Education (DepEd) said graduating students who lost their school records due to Super Typhoon Yolanda and other calamities last year would have to take a ”validating test“ to be able to receive their diplomas.

Education Secretary Armin Luistro said they have salvaged most of the records from schools devastated by Yolanda on Nov. 8, 2013.

He said students affected by the Zamboanga City siege last September will also graduate in the coming weeks.

“Everybody will graduate. The loss of records will not be a problem,” Luistro stressed.

The DepEd has scheduled graduation rites for public elementary and high school on March 27 or 28.

Schools in disaster-affected areas are expected to hold their graduation ceremonies a few days later, Luistro said.

“If teachers could no longer recall the grades, the students have to pass a validation test to move up to the next grade or year level,” he explained.

He said the examination would help them determine if the students had mastered their lessons.

Luistro also said they would no longer issue national guidelines on how to determine honor students.

“It’s up to the divisions as they are in better position to determine (honor students),” he said.

According to the DepEd, at least 7,300 students, or about 10 percent of the 78,000 public elementary and high school students in Yolanda-hit areas, lost their school records.

– With Helen Flores




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