Press Release
September 1, 2010

Recto: Where's 'ukay-ukay' report of much-heralded Typhoon Reconstruction Commission?

Before the country is buffeted again with back-to-back super typhoons, Sen. Ralph Recto wanted to know if there was an "exit report" done on the accomplishments of the much-heralded Public-Private Reconstruction Commission that was created in the aftermath of typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng.

Recto said a full accounting of the gains and misses of the Reconstruction Commission should be made, which could be useful to the new government's approach in dealing with typhoon calamities and the ensuing gargantuan task of rehabilitation effort.

"What happened to the Reconstruction Commission and to the billions of money that it was supposed to raise to rebuild government infrastructures and farmlands that were destroyed during the deadly typhoons last year?" Recto asked.

"As new super typhoons start to fall in line for a fresh assault on our properties, infrastructures and croplands, we would like to know the basic fact about the performance of the Reconstruction Commission," he added.

Recto said the report of the typhoon commission would be significantly instructive as to its mitigating impact on agriculture after the sector exhibited a contraction during the first semester of 2010.

Official government data showed that growth in key agriculture sub-sectors slid in the last two quarters like palay, which grew to negative 10.2 percent from positive 3.6 percent in the same period in 2009; corn, growing by negative 24.9 percent from negative 2.3 percent; coconut/copra, to 0.5 percent from 1.2 percent; and, banana to 0.7 percent in the first half from 4.5 percent last year.

"The success of the work of the commission would be measured based on how this impacted on agriculture in terms of restored irrigation facilities, storage houses, flood control projects, farm-to-market roads and bridges," he stressed.

Recto said his call is some sort of "a pre-emptive strike" when another super killer typhoon strikes and wreaks havoc with the following finger pointing exercise yielding the Reconstruction panel as the culprit for not doing its tasks.

He said the Special National Public-Private Reconstruction Commission was set up through an executive order October last year as a special body that would determine the cost of rehabilitation and raise at least $1 billion from foreign donors for post-typhoon rebuilding. The commission was given a private sector partner, the Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation (PDRF).

Former Finance Secretary Margarito Teves, heads of involved departments and religious and private sector counterparts were named as members of the commission.

Recto noted that the previous administration has even planned to tap zero-interest concessional loans from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and even made noises about initiating an international pledging session with the United Nations (UN) and other multilateral donors such as World Bank (WB).

"After the much hoopla, someone has yet to tell us if one single dollar was ever raised and where it went," Recto, Senate ways and means chair, said.

He stressed the previous government must have forgotten to trumpet the Commission's big gains and was only being modest to just allow the new government to stumble on their accomplishments.

"If this is the case, we're gladly holding our breath. We're ready to be amazed and mesmerized," Recto said.

He, however, said the last time that he heard about the accomplishments of the public-private sector commission was that it was mightily labouring on de clogging major water ways with water lilies, the treatment of leptospirosis victims, and consulting with the weather bureau and the National Disaster Coordinating Council on the proposed installation of rain gauges.

The senator also learned about container vans of "ukay-ukay" goods being delivered to typhoon victims and even of the laudable relief campaign of giant TV networks.

But Recto said after this, the publicity machine on the commission's tedious work suddenly "blacked out and went to an extended holiday."

"The well-kept ukay-ukay report, if one ever existed, of the Commission must be revealed to prove that it was more effective in rallying funds than the TV networks and NGOs' combined," Recto said.

The senator, however, clarified that he was not pre-judging the accomplishments of the typhoon commission noting that the people appointed to run it were of proven competence and experience.

He said the Reconstruction Commission was essentially the first template of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) that is now the development bible of the new administration.

The Arroyo government has estimated at more than P30 billion the damage of the killer typhoons to infrastructures and agriculture.

Based on the recommendation of Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, the proceeds from the $1 billion (then estimated at P46 billion) to be raised be broken down as follows: P12 billion for Pepeng (P3 billion for infrastructure, P4 billion for agriculture, and P5 billion for relocation); P27 billion for Ondoy (P11 billion for infrastructure, P1 billion for agriculture, and P15 billion for relocation); and for Frank, P7 billion for infrastructure.

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