3 years after earthquake, where are we?

NO NOSTRADAMUS WAS AROUND  to predict the 7.2 killer quake that struck Bohol on October 15, 2013, exactly three years ago, yesterday. It was a Sunday. 

The officials disaster count was 200 dead (8 missing), P1.3 B in infrastructure destroyed and 8,083 families (about 50,000 people) rendered homeless. Twenty five historic churches were in different states of ruin. 

Fortunately, disaster also has a way of destroying the material but elevating the profound spirituality of Boholanos. Dropped they did of our infamous ( ija ija, aho aho)-(to each his own) mentality and gave way to “I am my brother’s keeper”.

The tourism private sector was strong and repackaged tours to include the slogan that “ruins are attractions” as they are in Europe, Gov. Edgar Chatto chimed.  The major physical barriers to tour travel have been largely solved and tourism is back on its feet (not on wheelchairs). 

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It brought out the best in Boholanos. OFWs flooded Bohol with dollars and spilled into the 2013 Christmas buying spree. Face to face with disaster, Boholanos were among the first to aid our neighboring Leytenos- “giving though it hurt” .A chopper pilot carrying goods to Bohol was met by a sign across a huge farm field -saying “Thank You” -and he shed tears of joy.  Gratitude is the language of the soul.

The churches – classified into heritage and non-heritage – are in various stages of repair today -some may be lost forever for the destruction was total. Close to P 400-M is needed to copy the original form but with stronger materials. 

An appropriate “Resiliency Congress” was held at the Bohol Cultural Center yesterday to gauge the province’s footings vjs-a -vis the Rehabilitation Efforts.

It was a great effort but we need to report a more comprehensive accounting to the people for transparency and moving forward.

The best way to report it is through the Sources and Application of Funds methodology.

Government (BEA and the National Commission of Culture and Arts) are not the only Sources of Funds.. Private donors, the Habitat for Humanity, the Australian government (roads)  and the United Nations (through coordinator Luiza Corralho) bared a figure of US$33.5-M (about P1.5B) for the rehab efforts also are in that category. 

The Application of Funds include the government estimate of P1.3B (infrastructure) and our own estimate of Core Shelter houses is at P 711M( 8,083 homes X P88,000 cost of each house unit) or a total of P 711M total. 

The government said 85% of the BEA or P 1.955 B has been expended and upon completion of the waterworks by first quarter 2017- the BEA shall have been  100%exhausted. The BEA provision was that about P 380-M of the total should have gone to livelihood projects. Who were the beneficiaries?

We know for a fact hundreds of fisher folks lost their bancas in the quake. 

The Recovery Congress reported the following completed projects which were mentioned by an Inquirer article yesterday (Leo Udtohan)  as the number of items needing rehabilitation :

Bridges (4 completed of 39), ( 4 public markets of 55)( 2 civic centers of 56), (8 municipal buildings vs 66) and ( 1 waterworks of 63).  (Completed projects were provided in yesterday’s Congress) .Why these many number for rehabilitation when only 17 towns were supposedly  affected by the earthquake?

Accordingly there is an additional proposal by the DILG for Congressional appropriation of another P 2.1 B Phase II Rehabilitation? Does that include the unfinished projects above?  That also supposedly includes some flood control ,waterworks and road projects.

Since the recipient of the new funds is the Office of the Civil Works -does it mean the projects are all earthquake-induced .Because if they were not they could have been downloaded as DPWH, Waterworks or other line agencies’ projects. 

Who is tracking down, on the other hand,  the utilization of non-government funding mentioned a few paragraphs above? Were they considered in applying for new  budgetary application?

Lest we be misunderstood. We do not think there is any single Boholano  today who wants to delay the rehabilitation progress. 

But since there are many beneficiaries as there are many fund sources, it behooves us to have a truly Comprehensive Accounting of funds versus programs.The new Duterte administration, for another,  has not hidden its intent for absolute government transparency-short of those touching on “national security”.

In fact one of the first official acts of President Digong was the signing of the Executive Order on the Freedom of Information Bill (FOI). That gives a hint what direction his government is taking.  Let us just be ready for it.

We owe it anyway to all beneficiaries and providers of funds.

So, God forbid, if disaster strikes again – then the world knows we are a trustworthy people. Shalom!

For comments: email to dejarescobingo@yahoo.com or bohol-rd@mozcom.com



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