‘Long, difficult journey’

The father of Bohol’s reconstruction efforts has described the province’s road to complete recovery from the devastations brought about by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in 2013 as a “long and difficult journey.”

Looking back three years after a massive, powerful, deadly earthquake walloped Bohol on October 15, 2013, Gov. Edgar M. Chatto yesterday told The Bohol Tribune that “every step along the way teaches us lessons how we, as a people and as a community, CAN BUILD BACK BOHOL BETTER.”

“The road to complete recovery is a long and difficult journey,” the governor admitted in a text message, expressing deep gratitude to “all those who shared our pain and helped us through our struggles.”

Chatto made the statement days before the province marks the third anniversary of the tremor on Saturday (October 15) when Bohol was shattered by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake, which claimed 222 lives, injured at least a thousand people, flattened more than 15,000 houses and structures, and damaged some 73,000 structures, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

The energy released by the quake was equivalent to 32 Hiroshima bombs, according to an Inquirer report. Previously, Bohol was also hit by an earthquake on February 8, 1990 that damaged several buildings and caused a tsunami, affecting Third District towns. The 2013 earthquake, with its epicenter estimated near Sagbayan and Catigbian towns, devastated most towns in the First District of the Province.

Saturday’s commemoration of a tragedy which still resonates a bundle of painful memories among the Boholanos, the provincial government wants the ceremony as simple as it can be.

“Our focus in the commemoration is prayer… and on remembering those who had perished in the earthquake,” noted Provincial Administrator Alfonso “Ae” Damalerio, speaking over dyTR’s Ang Lungsod Nga Nasayod program hosted by Bohol Tribune editor-in-chief Mike Ligalig on midday Saturday.

“We will take time to pause and reflect on what we have learned from the past, from the calamity that we experienced,” Damalerio said.

The event on October 15 is called Bohol Resiliency Congress, which will emphasize “resiliency” on top of recovery and rehabilitation, post earthquake and super typhoon Yolanda

Bearing the theme “The Boholano Spirit Towards Rehabilitation, Recovery and Resiliency in the Era of Climate Change,” the quake anniversary ceremony will be attended by multi-sectoral groups both from the government and private sectors.

Ms. Liza M. Quirog, Capitol’s Socio-Economic and Environment Management (SEEM) Cluster Head, said Saturday’s quake commemoration, while it evokes solemnity and melancholy, is a “perfect moment to thank God, and to countless, nameless individuals and institutions who had helped Bohol rise again.”

“I agree with our governor, it has been a long and difficult journey three years after the earthquake,” Quirog told The Bohol Tribune yesterday.

The governor, speaking in behalf of the people of Bohol, said: “As we commemorate the third anniversary of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake, we remember with our prayers those who died and those who were injured.”

“Most of all, we thank God for never failing us in that most difficult moment of our lives. With stronger faith in our hearts, we proudly say… Behold Bohol!” Chatto said.

PROGRESS REPORT

Chatto said that much had been accomplished in the rehabilitation and reconstruction work.

“At the latest estimate, about 85% of the shelter reconstruction has already been completed, the rest is ongoing. While many of the other rehab clusters have completed their work, there are a few that must be sustained over the long term,” the governor told The Bohol Tribune yesterday.

“Our work in roads and bridges continues with the DPWH and PEO, as we continue to upgrade even farm to market roads to facilitate economic activity. Our livelihood programs and projects must also be sustained, because our inclusive economic growth goals are long-term. As you already know, the New Bohol Airport is under construction and will be completed by the first quarter of 2018,” Gov. Chatto expounded.

He explained that the rehab work on our churches and heritage structures, such as the Bohol Provincial Capitol, continues at a controlled pace, with the guidance of restoration experts.

“As you know, the Punta Cruz restoration has been completed. And of course, we are now finalizing the floor plans for the construction of the New Provincial Capitol,” Chatto said.

More details will be reported by the individual agencies involved in the rehab and reconstruction efforts on the day of the Earthquake Anniversary and Bohol Resiliency Congress on October 15, at 9 a.m. at the Bohol Cultural Center, according to the governor.

Chatto said that the most important priority now is “resiliency.”

“As they say, we now have to deal with the NEW NORMAL. And that includes being prepared for all types of hazards, as well as having the capability, down to the Purok level, to respond immediately to disasters. That also includes being resilient in our livelihood – such as in agriculture and livestock,” the governor said.

“Over the long-term horizon, we are updating our plans, such as the Provincial Development and Physical Framework Plan (PDPFP) to mainstream DRRM-CCA. Also, we have cemented our partnership with our partner agencies in our resiliency efforts, through our CDP-PPM, PPOC, Joint Task Force Dagon, and other partnerships,” he noted.

“As I reiterate the all-important message of moving on, or “Padayon Bohol!” which I gave in my first SOPA (State of the Province Address) after the earthquake, I also stress the importance of harnessing the hopeful and optimistic Boholano spirit in achieving our vision of long-term RESILIENCY,” Chatto said.

According to the governor, the PPDC and PDRRMO teams on Thursday attended the Nationwide Climate Change Summit held in Cebu City, and there, it was stressed by the National officials that, unlike the other disaster-stricken provinces, they (officials) had a lot of confidence and reliance on Bohol.

“In their words, ‘Kaya na nila.’ Of course, we still need national government funding, but those words are evidence of just how resilient the Boholano spirit is,” Chatto said.

BEA FUNDS

Following the quick recovery of Bohol from the 7.2 magnitude earthquake, the administration of then Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino extolled Bohol officials for hastening the recovery from the disaster, citing the province as a model in the country on disaster management and recovery for all the local government units (LGUs) to learn.

The national government had released at least P2.4 billion worth of financial aid dubbed as Bohol Earthquake Assistance (BEA) Funds intended for more than 1,000 infrastructure projects in various quake-affected towns here.

Damalerio, in an interview over dyTR, said most BEA Funds I had been released to local projects which are considered complete.

Before the 2016 elections, the Aquino administration, through the DILG, assured the province of Bohol of another P2.2 billion financial assistance termed as BEA Funds (Round 2).

Asked whether the BEA 2 Funds would be released under the Duterte administration, the governor replied: “The proposed BEA 2 is now under the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), not under DILG as experienced in BEA  1.”

“OCD conducted recently actual project evaluation for every proposal to ensure that they qualify under pre-set criteria and that they are earthquake-related damages. The proponents are still awaiting final advice from the national government whether or not BEA 2 will have funds available,” Gov. Chatto said.

Addressing to the Boholano people, the governor concluded: “With the grace of God and the guidance and assistance of the national government, we can truly build an optimistic, hopeful and RESILIENT province, so that whatever obstacles we face, whether from nature or otherwise, our concerted efforts towards inclusive growth will proceed uninterrupted.”

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