Press Release
January 27, 2020

Press Statement of Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto
Returning Taal residents need a "VFA"

Now, the hard work begins. Rehabilitation is always harder than relief work.

The latter is a sprint, bringing aid to displaced people fast. The latter is a marathon that takes a longer time to complete.

Relief is about bringing food and providing food to temporarily displaced people. Rehabilitation is about restoring the means by which they can permanently survive on their own again.

It is easy to pack grocery bags. What is hard is to package new livelihood for those whose income sources Taal has blown away. Even if the crisis is over, large swaths of temporarily designated No Man's Lands will be become Lands of No Return. What will happen to the thousands of "internal refugees?"

Doon sa mga nawalan ng bahay at hanapbuhay, ang tanong nila, "Mayroon na bang kahit katiting na VFA - Volcano Financing Assistance - na idadagdag namin sa aming sipag at tiyaga na bumangon muli?"

What now are the national government's plans for the post-eruption period? In a Cabinet supposedly staffed by the best and the brightest, who is the designated go-to guy for Taal rehabilitation?

Kahit sa linis phase pa lang, who will dispatch the equipment that will aid the local folk in the clean up? Are projects being prepared, funds being identified for reconstruction phase?

A symphony cannot have multiple conductors. Better to centralize accountability to one person. The problem with a committee of equals: not only is it prone to finger-pointing, but it is a good hiding place for the incompetent. In terms of reconstruction management, the more bosses there are, the murkier the results. Ang resulta: Turo-turo festival.

Mainam na mayroong Taal Commission. But the political reality is that it cannot pass muster without the support of Malacañang. In the meantime, there should be a Cabinet coordinator for Taal, na kukumpas sa iba't ibang ahensya na ito ang dapat gawin, na ito ang toka mo.

To the credit of many Cabinet members, many are now preparing for the long, hard work ahead. But there are gray areas which they deem outside their mandate or turf. We cannot allow people and places to fall into the cracks of these bureaucratic divisions.

Kailangan din ng koordinasyon sa iba't ibang mga ahensya. The convergence approach, in which agencies combine to maximize impact and avoid duplication of work, may be a good fit for Taal rehab.

Maaring hindi pa tapos ang krisis sa Taal, but the volcano's two-week tantrum should have given our agency heads enough time to draw up even a tentative Taal rebuilding blueprint because we all know, with certainty, that the emergency will subside, and that what follows is the hard work of rebuilding people's lives.

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