Tuesday August 21, 2018

Yolanda victims urge government to demolish substandard housing

A GROUP of Super Typhoon Yolanda survivors in Eastern Visayas on Friday, May 11, called on the National Government to demolish the substandard housing units they refused to occupy five years after the storm.

“First, they should destroy the substandard units because we believe that almost 80 percent of them are defective. It doesn’t matter whether the funds are wasted as long as our children are in a safe place,” said 48-year-old mother Imelda Tacalan of Balangiga, Eastern Samar.

Tacalan, a leader of Community of Yolanda Survivors and Partners (CYSP), urged President Rodrigo Duterte to launch a bigger inquiry over the substandard and anomalous housing projects, saying certain heads must roll over the issue.

Dhon Daganasol, leader of CYSP affiliate group Katarungan-Eastern Visayas, also asked the Duterte administration not to put its efforts into waste by ignoring the facts surrounding the bungled Yolanda housing program.

“To put a value on what the government is doing, the officials involved in this resettlement program should be held accountable,” said Daganasol.

Undersecretary Wendel Avisado of the Presidential Assistant for Special Concerns and Oversight Office for Yolanda rehabilitation earlier ended its series of grassroots consultations to the Yolanda-affected communities in Eastern Visayas.

During his recent visit to Eastern Samar, Avisado personally expressed his disappointments over the delays and backlogs of the government’s resettlement projects.

He also witnessed how one housing unit in Sitio Can-amo, Lawaan, swayed without difficulty after it was pushed by Director Kim de Leon.

While the group has welcomed the efforts of Avisado, they also stood firm on their demand “to audit and review Yolanda projects, and allow for a participative, and genuine, people-centered rehabilitation.”

According to Vincent Basiano, another CYSP official from Tacloban City, the “relentless” complaints of the storm victims over the resettlement projects are “sufficient proof” that no consultation took place in Yolanda corridors.

“Consultation had been a difficult subject for the communities of Yolanda victims. Local government units claim that consultation had been going on. But if you look at it, there was no consultation that really happens, the reason we have this problem in Yolanda projects,” said Basiano.

Pete Carlos, a storm victim from Carigara, Leyte, also expressed his fear that the anomalies in Yolanda housing will continue to be unchecked if Duterte will not solve the issues before his term ends.

“We’ve been protesting against the way the National Government implemented its rehabilitation program but they don’t bother to listen. Now, it’s too late for them to undo what happened. The only solution here is that erring Yolanda officials must be sent to prison to serve as a lesson,” Genelyn Brazos of the Freedom from Debt Coalition told SunStar.

Earlier, National Housing Authority General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr. announced that at least five housing officials could face suspension over the bungled Yolanda housing projects in the Visayas and Mindanao.

He also said that at least 46 unfinished housing projects will also be canceled due to various defects and negative slippage.

Out of the 205,128 target units for Yolanda victims, 67,754 units or 33 percent have been fully completed and 23,414 or 11 percent were occupied as of August 2017.

In Tacloban City, Yolanda’s ground-zero, out of more than 14,000 housing units, over 9,000 units had already been awarded. For the more than 50,000 housing units in the Eastern Visayas region, over 20,000 units had been turned over to the recipients. (SunStar Philippines)