Give Reconstruction Commission a chance– Palace

October 16, 2009 9:48 am 

MANILA, Oct. 16 — Malacañang appealed to critics on Friday to give the Special National Public-Private Reconstruction Commission a chance amid fears that funds maybe used for purposes other than rehabilitation.

“The Commission is in good hands,” assured Press Secretary Cerge Remonde in a briefing at Malacanang this afternoon. “The integrity of those appointed to run it is beyond reproach.”

Remonde was referring to business tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan and Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal who were named by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Tuesday as chairman and co-chairmen, respectively, of the Commission she created last Monday.

Finance Secretary Margarito Teves is the other co-chairman while certain members of the Cabinet, representatives from business groups, and non-governmental organizations here and abroad make up the board of directors.

The Commission is tasked to undertake a study on the causes of weather abnormalities, what actions to take to prepare the country and the cost such actions will entail. It will also undertake the rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure.

Pangilinan, according to Malacanang, has been chosen due to his experience in forging business deals abroad. His appointment, it said, is an indication that rehabilitation is not just a responsibility of government but of the private sector as well.

Remonde said the reconstruction body is non-partisan and will be transparent in the determination of priorities and in the implementation of projects.

In signing the order creating the Commission, the President noted that the typhoons came at a time when the country, like the rest of the world, was feeling the effect of the global financial crunch.

Damage of typhoons “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” to infrastructure has initially been estimated at P4.78 billion and to agriculture P12.86 billion.

The Commission will raise funds, especially grants, to fund reconstruction. It will also serve as a clearing house for international assistance implemented by donors themselves using the cluster approach.

Furthermore, the Commission has been tasked to request the United Nations and the World Bank to coordinate an international pledging session.

Remonde said Malacañang is ready to meet with urban master planner Architect Jun Palafox and discuss ways of possibly adapting part of the master plan he made in 1977 on flooding in Metro Manila.

The Palafox study warned that relaxing control of urban development would have adverse consequences. The devastation wrought by Ondoy proved him right.

Meanwhile, Cabinet Secretary Silvestre Bello said a relief caravan will be brought to areas hit hard by Ondoy and Pepeng starting Monday. The caravan will bring relief goods to victims of the two typhoons in Nueva Ecija, Cagayan, Isabela, Baguio, Benguet, Abra, La Union, Ilocos Norte and Sur and Pangasinan. It will be managed by the Department of Social Welfare in coordination with the National Disaster Coordinating Council. (PNA)

scs/OPS/utb

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