From the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery
Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (PARR) Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday oversaw the turnover of a municipal building and the public market in Balangiga, Samar, which were reconstructed through the efforts of an American private firm.
PARR Secretary Panfilo Lacson commended the town mayor, Viscoy de Lira and the residents for this initiative that led to the early completion and rehabilitation of the municipal building and the public market.
The turnover was facilitated by Dennis Wright, president and chief executive officer of Peregrine Development International Inc., Jim Spore, its executive vice president and Michael Russel, chief financial officer of Global Gateway Development Corporation.
Mayor de Lira in turn expressed gratefulness to the American firm for its generous act of helping his administration and constituents.
Wright said that aside from being fascinated by the historical relevance of the town, he is emotionally attached to Filipinos, being married to a Filipina.
Balangiga is home to the church bells which American forces took as war booty after its siege of the town in 1901. The bells were supposedly used by Filipino forces as a signal when it ambushed and killed dozens of American soldiers at that time which prompted the retaliatory raid of the Americans.
Wright said their reconstruction effort started with a humanitarian work-cum-journey barely a week after super typhoon Yolanda struck, giving relief aid to nearby towns as they inched their way to Balangiga.
Aside from the municipal building, Balangiga’s private sector partners have also finished the rehabilitation of its public market which, according to Mayor De Lira, will be operational next week.
The American firms have also donated water purification systems to provide potable drinking water to the people of Balangiga and is in the process of reconstructing classrooms using their engineering and design innovations which would make the new school buildings storm and earthquake-proof.
Wright said they are now in the planning stage of rehabilitating the Balangiga town church including its bell tower.
Lacson lauded the rise anew of Balangiga as a model of an efficient partnership between the private sector and the government in the Yolanda reconstruction efforts.
Lacson, in his capacity as overall manager of the recovery efforts, is espousing such partnership to hasten the rebuilding of 171 towns and cities heavily damaged by Yolanda.
He likewise underscored the time honored Filipino value of “utang na loob” and assured the American development sponsor that “we will never forget your generosity for the rest of our lives”.
He assured the other mayors of Eastern Samar who attended the ceremonies that the national government will soon start full implemention of the Yolanda reconstruction work once the rehabilitation plan is finalized.
He also mentioned his intention to recommend to President Aquino that funds for the reconstruction of their municipal buildings and public markets be downloaded to them so they don’t have to wait and soon start the reconstruction themselves as long as they conform with the “build back better” standards set by the national government.