MANILA (AFP) – Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Friday defended the pace of rebuilding in communities ravaged a year ago by Super Typhoon Haiyan, insisting that thorough reconstruction takes time.
Haiyan, the strongest storm ever to make landfall, killed or left missing more than 7,350 people as it flattened mostly poor areas in large swathes of the central Philippines.
Tens of thousands of survivors are still dangerously exposed to future storms, living in tents, shanty huts or other flimsy shelters, as a prolonged rebuilding phase has only just begun.
In a speech at the hard-hit town of Guiuan a day ahead of Haiyan’s one-year anniversary, Aquino said he was determined to ensure the reconstruction programme was carried out correctly, rather than rushing.
“Curse me, criticise me but I believe I must do the right thing,” Aquino said.
“I am impatient like everyone else but I have to stress that we can’t rebuild haphazardly.
“We have to build back better… let’s get it right the first time and the benefits should be permanent.”
Aquino has come under criticism for approving the government’s 160-billion-peso ($3.6 billion) reconstruction master plan only last week.a