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PIA Press Release

PGMA irked by slow pace of Cosme rehab in Pangasinan

Lingayen (9 July) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo visited the province again last Friday, her third since typhoon Cosme battered Pangasinan on May 17, to know the progress of rehabilitation work.

But the situation facing her and the province was practically the same as that on June 4 when the President went to barangay Portic in Bugallon for her second visit.

That time some 4,000 GI sheets were made available for distribution to victims of the super howler. She then directed concerned agencies like social welfare and public works to speed up the release of the sheets, with deliveries made every week.

A month after, local officials are still complaining.

Mayors who attended the closed-door meeting of the regional disaster coordinating council at the sanggunian session hall at the Capitol building reportedly complained to the Chief Executive about the non-release or delay of any assistance from the national government.

The President apparently thought that one month after her Bugallon visit, the GI sheets she had ordered to be delivered weekly were already in the hands of beneficiaries.

Instead, she was told during the meeting that the next earliest delivery would be on July 9 yet.

Public works officials interviewed earlier said typhoon Frank caused the delay as the ship supposed to deliver the materials imported from abroad got stranded. Such claim needs to be validated since there are local manufacturers or distributors of construction materials.

The RDCC meeting was originally planned as open to the public especially to the media.

Some 10 minutes into the report of the RDCC chair, police Regional Director Romeo Hilomen, the President asked the media to be ushered out of the hall obviously due to sensitive discussions. Apparently she was dismayed by the report which tackled less than satisfactorily response to rehabilitation by local relief agencies.

Arroyo interrupted Hilomen several times to ask pointedly about damages brought by typhoon Frank, an irked tone lining her voice before the media was told to wait outside the hall.

Sison town Mayor Carmen 'Kimi' Cojuangco told mediamen after the meeting that she voiced out her concerns as well as those of his colleagues to the President about non-release of funds or materials for reconstruction or rehabilitation.

She said that in her town many schoolbuildings were still untouched and in sorry state to the detriment of pupils who are left at the mercy of the sun and rains.

This situation, according to Cojuangco, is the same as in other towns that also suffered much from the typhoon's fury. She said she showed the President pictures of the heavily damaged school buildings in her town to prove her point.

The mayors who attended all wanted to know if they would still receive assistance from the national government.

Reports said Dagupan City, Bugallon, Infanta and Dasol have already received some GI sheets from the initial delivery of 4,600 plus sheets but the number hardly touched the big number of roofless typhoon victims. More than 20 towns in Pangasinan were hard hit by Cosme.

The President shortly after Cosme struck on May 17, ordered the release of P500 million for the purchase of GI sheets and other construction materials for distribution to Pangasinan, Zambales and La Union when she first visited the province five days after the typhoon.

Assigned to directly handle the work was the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Education.

Other government agencies were reported to have released funds to help in the rehabilitation work. But local officials wondered where the money went or if indeed there were funds released. (PIA-Pangasinan) [top]

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