Extend IATF-Yolanda so it can finish work – Go
Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) - September 16, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The inter-agency body tasked with fully rehabilitating communities ravaged by Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: “Haiyan”) in 2013 should continue and “finish its job,” President Duterte’s closest ally in Congress said yesterday.

Sen. Bong Go is urging the government to extend the term of the Inter-Agency Task Force Yolanda for the Unified Implementation and Monitoring of Rehabilitation and Recovery Projects and Programs in the Yolanda-Affected Areas (IATF-Yolanda), whose term expired last month.

Go appealed to concerned agencies under the IATF-Yolanda to finish their job before the end of Duterte’s term in 2022.

“We do not want to waste projects before the end of President Duterte’s term. He does not tend to leave projects pending and unfinished. The work must be completed, no unfinished project will be left,” Go said in Filipino.

With the possible extension of IATF-Yolanda, the senator said he hopes government projects long-awaited by Filipinos who lived through the painful experience of the disaster would be completed, particularly housing.

“Get the job done, from start to finish; ensure that new houses are of quality living standards, and that every single peso is used to fully rehabilitate affected communities,” he said.

Go said one of the integral components of the Yolanda Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan is the Yolanda Permanent Housing Program. The task force continues to construct housing units and energize permanent settlements with access to clean drinking water.

However, major infrastructure construction was temporarily halted or delayed partly because of the COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent imposition of community quarantines.

“Based on the IATF-Yolanda reports submitted, our completion rate on projects is high. With the extension of IATF-Yolanda, the remaining housing units will be ensured and the electrification and water connection will be completed as soon as possible. The extension is also meant to ensure the people’s money, up to the last centavo, is accounted for,” Go said.

To date, Yolanda is considered the deadliest typhoon to hit the Philippines, making its initial strike in Eastern Samar in the eastern part of the country on Nov. 8, 2013. It killed more than 6,000 people and displaced millions of citizens mostly in the Visayas regions.

Go has been advocating for the township concept for government’s housing and resettlement programs.

The present Yolanda Permanent Housing Program integrates that concept, aiming not only to build houses but also to create livable, thriving and disaster-resilient communities under a township approach to rural settlement development.

IATF-Yolanda’s township concept has three major components – provision of daycare, construction of schools and establishment of health centers within or near the housing project sites.

Even before he became a senator, Go raised the need for proper housing for Filipinos. He filed Senate Bill No. 203, titled “National Housing Development, Production and Financing Act of 2019” in his first month in the Senate.

He said SB 203 aims to institutionalize a program to address the housing needs of Filipinos through generating and mobilizing sustainable funds for housing.

“We want that there will be no more squatter in the country so we have programs like this,” he said. “Let us give every Filipino family the opportunity and hope to have a decent home. Let us work together to ensure for every Filipino to have a good and comfortable life, and give them new hope especially after the crisis caused by COVID-19.”

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