By Chito Chavez
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) bared that close to three million households are now benefiting from the 308 repaired and rehabilitated municipal facilities worth P1.278-billion in five regions which were totally or partially damaged during the onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said that the 308 facilities rehabilitated under the first batch of the Department’s Recovery Assistance for Yolanda (RAY) program include 98 civic centers, 103 municipal halls, 106 public markets, and one DILG Regional Field Office.
“With the completed municipal facilities, we are very optimistic that our new sets of municipal leaders in the Yolanda-affected areas can now provide normal government services to their constituents,” Año said.
With the repaired facilities, Año has expected more vibrant buying and selling activities in the completed public markets as well as other events and gathering in civic centers.
He explained that RAY Batch 1 covers the repair or rehabilitation of totally or partially damaged municipal facilities to aid in the return to normalcy of government services and economic activities in Yolanda-affected areas. It is concentrated in Regions IVB, V, VI, VII, and VIII which lie within the 50 kilometer radius of Yolanda’s deadly path.
Of the 308 completed projects, seven are in MIMAROPA, one in Bicol Region, 127 in Western Visayas, 28 in Central Visayas, and 145 in Eastern Visayas.
“With RAY Batch 1 now 100% complete, the Department now shifts its focus in monitoring the on-going barangay facilities and other government projects under the RAY Batch 2 and 3A,” Año noted.
However, Año pointed out the DILG is only handling the repair of local government facilities not the housing program as this is handled by other national government agencies.
Resilient, grateful beneficiaries
More than the structures, beneficiaries of the completed projects have also become resilient to Yolanda-like and other disasters.
“We are now more prepared and cooperative with the local government especially if we hear about storm warnings. We really never want to experience again the pain and stress we had during Yolanda,” Rosario D. Merilles, a local market vendor in Guian, Eastern Samar, said.
Merilles is one of the 105 vendors/stall owners in Guiuan who was greatly affected when the Guian Public Market was severely damaged during Typhoon Yolanda.
With a P13-million fund from the RAY Batch 1 program, the market is now completely rehabilitated and Merilles now happily sells her goods in the reconstructed market.
Meanwhile, local Ormoc City resident and market supervisor Arthur C. Arcuino expressed that the RAY funding was a big help in the speedy recovery of Ormoc City.
“Our civic center is also more durable now. It’s the biggest structure we have in Region VIII, even bigger than the coliseum in Tacloban, with a capacity of around 7,000,” Arcuino said referring to the P51-million rehabilitation project of Ormoc City Civic Center.
Merilles and Arcuino’s stories along with other Yolanda survivors are part of the commemorative book on stories of survival and resilience after Typhoon Yolanda entitled “After the Storm: Two Year On.” Printed copies are available at the DILG- Office of Project Development Services while digital copies are available at https://dilgyolanda.wordpress.com/.