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Piecemeal policies on rehab scored

12:02 AM May 13, 2014

Six months after Super Typhoon “Yolanda” struck, the government has yet to show us a concrete and comprehensive way forward to rehabilitate and rebuild our devastated

communities.

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Instead, President Aquino announced the implementation of the no-build zone policy, which prohibits structures within 40 meters from the coastline in all Yolanda-affected areas.

Presidential Assistance for Rehabilitation and Recovery Secretary Panfilo Lacson, in pursuit of this directive, also recommended the creation of what he distinguishes as “safe zones,” “unsafe zones” and “no dwelling zones”—to be identified later. No-build zones would be classified as unsafe zones, while unsafe zones needed for livelihood would be considered as “no dwelling zones.” Still, the policy guideline has not been issued up until today, six months after Yolanda.

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The communities in Yolanda-affected areas are still not secure. The government has

offered only three relocation sites to accommodate 12,000 families. Not safe enough for former residents of these no-build zones—an estimated 60,000 families. Where else and when will they be resettled?

Our access to food and resources, including what we need for income and industry, may be limited. What becomes of the artisanal fisherfolk that traditionally use these foreshore areas as docking sites, fish and seaweed drying and gleaning areas, as well as for fish landing, or as small wet markets and fish gear storage?

Before any policy is enforced, each stakeholder must be part of the process. Property rights must also be protected even as “no dwelling zones” are declared; and yet cases of eviction have already been reported. How can the interests of all sectors be harmonized?

There are more questions raised than answered because piecemeal solutions cannot address the core of our problems. There is confusion in applying this measure on the ground because we still lack the national framework and guidelines to ensure security, sustainability and social equity.

Disaster rehabilitation and response must be complemented by the passage of the proposed national land use act. With it, we can strengthen local policies and programs that regulate the use of our land resources in terms of protection, production, settlement and infrastructure.

Build better resilient communities, pass the national land use act now!

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—KIM ALVAREZ,

Campaign For Land Use Policy Now!

(CLUP NOW!),

[email protected]

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