News Release

Task force to fast track rehabilitation of calamity-stricken areas – Palace

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on November 14 created a task force that will be in charge of the rehabilitation of calamity-stricken areas in the wake of the subsequent typhoons that hit the country recently.

In a press briefing on November 16, Secretary Roque said that an Executive Order (EO) is already being drafted on the creation of the said task force, which will be called the Build Back Better Task Force. The said group will be headed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

The Palace official said that the task force is being created because of the need for a more permanent body that will focus and develop expertise on post disaster rehabilitation and recovery of typhoon-hit areas, even before the enactment of a law creating the Department of Disaster Resilience.

“This body will have a clear chain of command, and a direct mandate to address and monitor the multifarious issues and concerns involved in the rehabilitation and recovery phase of typhoon-affected areas,” said Sec. Roque.

“Nag-iisa ang Executive Secretary na mamumuno nitong Task Force,” Roque stressed adding that someone has to be in-charge and the person in-charge is the Executive Secretary with full assistance of the entire cabinet.

The Cabinet member said that “Build Back Better” is the theme of the government’s recovery and rehabilitation efforts that are anchored on restoration and transformation of vulnerable areas to more resilient, integrated, and sustainable communities.

“Towards this objective, immediate action such as relief assistance shall be aligned with the medium and long-term action of rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure, development of communities, and construction of housing for affected families,” said Roque.

According to the Palace spokesman, the said task force will have various government agencies as members including the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Budget and Management, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, National Irrigation Administration, National Electrification Administration, National Housing Authority, among others.

Sec Roque added that the President likewise gave a directive to the Philippine Air Force, Philippine Navy, and the Philippine Coast Guard to give assistance to the said task force. The President also called on local government units to assist the task force as well.

In the same press briefing, Philippine Ambassador to Russia Carlos Sorreta said that Russian vaccines are already in advanced development, and that the Philippines’ Health and Science and Technology departments are already in talks with Russian authorities both in terms of supply and possible co-production of the vaccines in the country.

More importantly, Ambassador Sorreta said that Russia can start producing the vaccines for the Philippines as soon as the country is ready to accept it. He said that Russia has already signed co-production agreements with other countries and the availability of the vaccine in the country depends on the Philippines’ due diligence and on how soon can the country sign the agreement. Sorreta added that it would also depend on the country’s readiness for procurement, the availability of infrastructure for the vaccines, among others. ### OPS-PCOO