Aquino: We will build a better, stronger Philippines
President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday said the government will use the opportunity given by the world community in building a more resilient, stronger and better Philippines with safeguards against climate change.
While recognizing the tough challenges ahead, Aquino said the government is “undaunted” in pushing with the rehabilitation of typhoon-damaged areas.
Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda
Speaking before the Philippine development partners on the ‘Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda (RAY),’ Aquino laid out the government plans in rehabilitating the areas affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda that ripped the Eastern Visayas last month, assuring the international donors that every dollar of donation will be utilized as “efficient and lasting a manner as possible.”
The President said recovery and reconstruction efforts will be done in cumulative and overlapping phases to meet the immediate needs of affected communities. He added that his government wants to make sure that the recovery efforts will be not “just towards full normalcy, but to an improved state.”
“We know that it is more efficient to prioritize resilience now, rather than to keep rebuilding. This is why we are going to build back better,” he said.
While the government is constructing bunkhouses to serve as temporary shelters for affected families, Aquino said they are already planning the construction of resilient and permanent housing communities in safe zones.
As for infrastructure, he stressed that the programs will not just focus on repairing or rebuilding facilities, but more on strengthening the capacity to withstand the effects of calamities.
The government is confident in reviving the agriculture and fisheries sectors, which provide a large part of employment in Visayas.
“[The] government will be there every step of the way—from restoring the viability of farmlands, to rebuilding or replacing assets that the storm destroyed, to providing inputs to restart farming and fishing,” Aquino said.
In developing manpower, Aquino promised that his administration will set training programs for farmers and fishermen in the affected areas, to hone their skills and learn new craft which will result in greater productivity and income diversification.
“Through RAY, we are not just settling for the minimum—we do not want our countrymen merely to make do. We are taking this chance not just to rebuild what was destroyed, but again, to build back better,” he said.
The government is targeting to provide more livelihood and business in the area, aside from the cash for work programs. Aquino said it will open lines of credit, and will finance and support micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) for affected areas to recover, while the government is working with private partners “to attract investments in affected areas and build a more inclusive local economy.”
Mitigating Climate Change
Following the monster typhoon that left more than 6,000 people dead and have caused $12.9 billion in damage, Aquino urged Filipinos to help in mitigating the increasing risks posed by global warming and climate change.
“What we must build is a partnership borne not only of necessity, but also of the realization that helping all those in need—all those who suffer—must be accompanied by reducing the risks that allow this need and this suffering to arise,” he said.
“Now, more than ever, we must work together to mitigate the abuse of the environment that has resulted, and continues to result in tragedy, especially for the more vulnerable peoples of the world.”
During his speech, Aquino also took time to thank all the international and local organizations participating in the rehabilitation and recovery efforts since the first week of the Yolanda onslaught. Their presence, he said, keeps him confident that the rehabilitation projects will be achieved in the proper time.
“There is indeed much left to do for all of us in the months and years ahead, but we are undaunted; we know that we can accomplish all that we have set out to do… Our failure means the suffering of our fellowmen and therefore we cannot fail,” Aquino said.