Press Releases

Salceda calls for permanent, resilient rehousing; Principal author of disaster resilience department wants ‘tourism rehabilitation infrastructure program’ for Odette-hit communities

December 27th, 2021

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district), principal author of House Bill No. 5989 which aims to create the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR), says that ‘permanent rehousing and relocation’ will have to be part of the government’s infrastructure plan, as calls for stronger disaster resilience measures mount in the aftermath of Typhoon Odette.

“560,000 houses po ang totally damaged. Ang dami po niyan,” Salceda said in an interview earlier during the day, citing partial statistics from local incident reports.

In comments after the interview, Salceda said that “the way forward is to make sure that the houses themselves are safe, so that we don’t have to frequently resort to evacuation. It is an experience that can be lowering of one’s dignity, especially forced evacuation. Human dignity calls for safe, disaster-resilience housing that people can depend on for shelter against hazards.”

“Rehabilitation must therefore involve building roads, support infrastructure such as schools and healthcare facilities, and new housing in areas that are safer from natural and geohazards,” Salceda added.

“We have to shift from temporary evacuation to permanent rehousing. As we have seen in both Yolanda and now in Odette, even evacuation has its own faults when the evacuation facilities are not resilient,” Salceda explained.

Mass rehoming is achievable’

Salceda said that Albay already undertook such a program during his governorship from 2007 to 2016, citing the Guinobatan-Camalig-Daraga-Legazpi (GUICADALE) Platform, consisting of extensive road networks, Bicol International Airport, relocation sites, agro-tourism enterprises, and other state-induced socioeconomic activities to encourage relocation from barangays prone to lahar from Mayon.

“Guicadale is a 64,000 hectare economic township in Albay where the district’s most populous barangays are now located. It is probably the largest ever human resettlement plan undertaken in the country.”

“It can be done: mass, permanent rehousing to safer areas through a mixture of direct government-funded housing and encouragement to relocate.”

Salceda recalls that Albay funded the Guicadale Economic Township project feasibility study and submitted its P4.4-billion plan to the Bicol Regional Development Council (RDC), which was approved and endorsed to the national government. It was subsequently approved by the National Economic and Development Authority’s Investment Coordination Committee-Technical Working Group and the Department of Budget and Management Cabinet Committee for budget strategy.

Tourism-heavy areas hard-hit

Salceda also said that new infrastructure to support safer, more resilient tourism is needed in Odette-struck areas.

Salceda estimates that the Odette-hit areas accounted for 14.9 million tourists out of 56.7 million domestic or regional and foreign tourists during the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

“That’s 26.31% of tourist arrivals, a loss that could hamper recovery of the tourism sector as a whole.”

Salceda suggests reorienting tourism infrastructure in these areas to a tourism rehabilitation infrastructure program (TRIP) that would encourage tourism to safe portions of the regions.

“I think the immediate figure will be at least P16.2 billion, as an initial tranche of programs. We can definitely consider appropriating such funds for a special budget, if the government so asks,” Salceda added.

“Ultimately, infrastructure is a reflection of how you value human life and which parts of an areas will see more economic growth,” Salceda said.

“Odette-hit areas are tourism heavyweights. Let’s support them,” Salceda concluded. (end)

Other Press Releases
Statement on the pronouncements against the Public Service Act amendments (RA 11659)
Read More
Statement on the February 2024 jobs report
Read More
Statement on the March 2024 inflation figures
Read More
The problem of access to Senior Citizen healthcare is structural, but it should be addressed alongside other issues with Senior Citizen welfare.
Read More