Executive Secretary won't head task force to rehabilitate typhoon-hit areas, but by Cimatu, Villar - Palace
The task force that will be created to lead the rehabilitation of typhoon-devastated areas in Luzon will no longer be headed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Malacanang said on Wednesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, in an interview with CNN Philippines, said President Rodrigo Duterte wants Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu and Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar to jointly head the task force.
Roque initially called the body as the "Build Back Better Task Force''.
He said the decision to change the head is "based on science."
"Of course, not only it is based in science but it is also to make sense because when we talk of rehabilitation, you talk basically of roads and bridges and buildings destroyed by a calamity which is the turf of the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways); and you also talk about the scientific reasons why we have typhoons of this nature which is climate change, and that is the rationale of the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) co-heading the task force," he explained.
Roque earlier said that the Executive Secretary would head the task force so immediate action could be undertaken without the need to ask first the Cabinet officials who are members of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
Under the current law, the NDRRMC, chaired by the secretary of the Department of National Defense with members from various government agencies, handles and coordinates all the disaster response.
On Tuesday night, Duterte also announced that he signed a proclamation declaring a state of calamity in the whole of Luzon due to the destructive typhoons that whipped the country in recent weeks.
The declaration was based on the recommendation of NDRRMC.
The Palace has yet to issue an official copy of the proclamation.
Roque said with the declaration of state of calamity, there is an automatic price freeze of basic commodities in areas covered.
Local government units could also spend their calamity funds without restrictions and the areas covered by the declaration have become top priority for all agencies in the provision of necessary relief goods and of rehabilitation, he added.
Typhoons "Quinta", "Rolly," and "Ulysses" have caused huge destruction in infrastructure and agriculture in Luzon during the past couple of weeks. Celerina Monte/DMS