Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea will head the planned inter-agency task force that will implement the swift  relief and rehabilitation works in typhoon-hit provinces, Malacañang announced Monday.

esm - Medialdea heads typhoon rehab task force
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea

An executive order creating the “Build Back Better Task Force” is currently being drafted, according to presidential spokesman Harry Roque.

Roque explained that the planned creation of the task force would ensure “a whole of government approach” in terms of facilitating rehabilitation and recovery of communities affected by the recent natural disasters.

“The creation of a more permanent body that will focus and develop expertise on post disaster rehabilitation and recovery of typhoon-hit areas is necessary, even before the enactment of a law creating the Department of Disaster Resilience,” he said during a Palace press briefing.

The task force, Roque added, would also have “a clear chain of command and direct mandate to address and monitor the multifarious issues and concerns involved in the rehabilitation and recovery phase of typhoon- affected areas.”

“The task force really is to stress that someone has to be in charge and the person in charge is the Executive Secretary with the full assistance of the Cabinet,” he said.

Among the members of the task force are the Department of Agriculture, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Budget and Management, Department of Social Welfare and Development, National Irrigation Authority, National Electrification Administration, and National Housing Authority.

President Duterte has directed the Philippine Air Force, Philippine Navy, and Philippine Coast Guard to provide assistance to the task force. Local government units are also urged to render support for the task force, according to Roque.

“Build Back Better will be the main theme of our recovery and rehabilitation efforts which are anchored on the restoration and transformation of vulnerable areas to more resilient, integrated and sustainable communities,” he said.

Immediate action such as relief assistance shall be aligned with the medium and long term actions of rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure, development of communities, and construction of housing for affected families, Roque added. 

Roque noted that an average of 20 typhoons, some of which are recorded the strongest to make landfall, visit the country every year. “As our experiences have taught us, a typhoon’s devastating effects do not respect political boundaries and call for interventions that involve a whole of government approach, as well as immediate solutions outside of the current bureaucratic framework,” he said.

Last Saturday,  the President announced the creation of a task force that will hasten the relief and rehabilitation assistance to communities affected by a recent series of typhoons in the country. Duterte said he would give the task force a timeline to ensure the rehabilitation of calamity areas would proceed without delay and red tape.

Some groups, however, considered the President’s planned task force as unnecessary, given the existing National Disaster Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. The council, which oversees government’s preparedness and relief operations in times of calamities, includes various government agencies as members.

In the wake of criticisms on the alleged redundancy of another task force, Roque appealed to the public to give the task force a chance to do its work. “Let’s see what kind of difference this EO will make as delivery of quick responses and rehabilitation efforts in calamity-stricken areas,” he said.

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