Philippines: GMA earmarks P500 million for rehabilitation of typhoon-hit areas

BAYAWAN CITY, Negros Oriental -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today earmarked P500 million to finance the reconstruction and rehabilitation of calamity-struck areas and for the reforms in the government's weather agency, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAG-ASA).
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the National Agro Trade Fair and Congress (NATFC) at the Bayawan City Sports Complex here, the President announced that the allocated funds would also be used for the stepped-up campaign against illegal logging and for the massive reforestation of denuded areas.

The fund would also cover the formulation of a disaster reform template similar to that of the Province of Albay, where they were able to achieve a "zero" casualty during the frequent eruptions of Mayon Volcano.

The President ordered Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap to distribute rice and corn seeds to areas affected by the series of typhoons that slammed the country, so that the farmers can recover the massive losses that they incurred during the flashfloods and mudslides.

This would ensure that the government's target in rice and corn yields could still be met in the coming years, the President said.

"As we carry out a massive relief and rehabilitation efforts, we're setting our sight on the formulation of a more comprehensive national policy that would protect lives, property and crops, uphold environmental laws and sustain vulnerable communities over the long-term," she said.

The President added that her government is determined to succeed in its twin goals of fighting poverty and ensuring human security and development.

"The catastrophes last week were no match for the solidarity and resiliency of our people. I thank the local executives, all government personnel, the soldiers, the volunteers, the different media establishments and, of course, the Lord Almighty for literally enabling the Philippines to weather the storm," the President said.

The President landed this afternoon at the Negros Oriental State University coming from a working visit in Cagayan de Oro City.

She unveiled the symbolic marker of the P562.8 million 121.884- kilometer Dumaguete-Siaton-Basay Road which was funded by the government and completed on March 15 this year.

President then proceeded to the NATFC site here in Bayawan where she distributed a corn sheller machine each for the City of Bayawan, Municipality of Sta. Catalina and Municipality of Siaton.

A rice thresher machine was also given each to Siaton, Sta. Catalina and Basay, all in Negros Oriental.