Mayors clamor for coordinated support in Eastern Visayas

By Sealdi Gonzales

As aid pours into typhoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda) affected municipalities, mayors are asking that a well-coordinated system be in place for speedier recovery and rehabilitation.

During a partnership meeting organized by Tabang Visayas and the Zuellig Family Foundation last month, Marabut Mayor Percival Ortillo Jr. noted the lack of a municipal system for donor assistance. “It is important to implement a centralized system at the municipal level to manage donor assistance with municipal priorities.”

Both Ambassador Howard Dee, lead convenor of Tabang Visayas and chairman of Assisi Development Foundation, and ZFF president Ernesto Garilao emphasized the need for partners and local government units to work together. “The role of Tabang Visayas [and its convenors] is to help the local government units harmonize the rehabilitation of their municipalities,” Garilao said.

The meeting aimed to match programs of various organizations with the specific needs of the municipalities. Former Health Secretary Jaime Galvez-Tan presented the Health Futures Foundation Inc. (HFI)’s “Sagip Samar!” (Save Samar) disaster response program and emphasized the need for psychological first aid to communities and local chief executives in the aftermath of major calamities.

Plan International-Philippines presented their six-month Country Strategy Programme, which supports the re-establishment of maternal, newborn, child health, nutrition, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) programs in affected municipalities in Samar island.

Presenting their respective agricultural, livelihood, micro-finance and enterprise assistance programs were the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), Hapinoy Sari-Sari Stores, Partnership for Development Assistance in the Philippines, Inc. (PDAP), and the Center for Community Transformation Inc. (CCT).

Stiftung Solarenergie-Solar Energy Foundation chairman Jaime Ayala was also present to discuss solar energy and distribute solar lamps to leaders of the 12 municipalities present.

The meeting that was held in Greenhills, San Juan was attended by the local government officials of Eastern Samar municipalities of Salcedo, Giporlos, Quinapondan, Gen. MacArthur, Balangiga, Balangkayan, Hernani, Lawaan, Mercedes, and Guiuan, and the Samar municipalities of Basey and Marabut.

These municipalities have partnership agreements with ZFF to help in the municipalities’ recovery program, especially in health. ZFF’s 6-month “Recovery Assistance Program for Mothers” (RAP for Mothers) is aimed at protecting women and infants by making sure pregnant and lactating women get proper natal care. Midwives and barangay (village) health workers are also given health kits they can use for delivery of health services. Under the program, mayors and municipal health officers are also required to attend ZFF’s leadership and governance program to arm them with skills to fix their health systems and sustain health gains beyond the 6-month recovery assistance program.

The RAP for Mothers is being implemented with the funding support from the Washington, D.C- based US-Philippines Society.