Today, The School of Diplomacy with the Division of Volunteer Efforts welcomed Mario Lopez De Leon, Jr., the Philippine Consul General to New York, for a lecture and discussion on rebuilding efforts going on in the typhoon Haiyan areas.
Per my internship in Washington, DC last year, I stayed with a nice Filipino family, who essentially took me in and made me a part of their family. I let them know of the event and asked whether they had any questions that I could ask on their behalf.
The first question, I received was how the Filipino government will make sure all the donations, such as cash and in-kind items, be properly distributed to the victims and not end up in the pocket of the Filipino government?
The second question, I received is if the Consul General could provide an update on the Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for undocumented Filipino immigrants working in the US, who send money back to their family in the Philippines?
What did I get out of Consul General De Leon’s Discussion?
- An estimated $12.9 billion in damages
- 1.1 million houses were destroyed
- Need about $8.2 billion in reconstruction efforts
What is the Filipino government’s Rebuilding Efforts?
- Build-A-Shelter Project in partnership with the Philippine Consulate General and Philippine Jesuits Foundation
- Launched on November 26, 2013
- Each house cost $3,300 to build
- Raised $270,000
- Building 3 villages of about 36 houses and working on 4th village to conclude project
- Project plan is to finish building in 4 years
First Question – The problem lies in storage capacity because one their biggest ports was destroyed. So the answer, is the Filipino government has created a tracking system, the Track Recovery System (TRS) to ensure proper transparency. The TRS will be implemented starting May 2014 in collaboration with concerned government agencies to keep tab of financial resources for the Haiyan-affected. No actual date was given nor who exactly would be in charge monitoring the TRS. In addition, due to storage issues, they are giving perishable (can goods) items more priority compared to non-perishable such as blankets to be stored and distributed quickly. Also, the government is looking for creative approaches to assist in distribution procedures.
Second Question – Those who only meet the qualifications will receive TPS. The decision will be made next month by the US Department of Homeland Security. [On a side note: I believe he is hopeful a positive decision will be made since he cited the past disasters of Haiti and Nicaragua, where undocumented immigrants from their respective countries were allowed to stay under TPS]