CABINET Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles led the signing of memorandum of agreement (MOA) and Deed of Donation and Acceptance (Doda) for the turnover of eight Yolanda housing sites exactly six years after Typhoon Yolanda, which hit the Philippines in November 2013 and killed thousands of people.
The signing and turnover were held at the Park Inn Hotel in Mandurriao, Iloilo City on November 19. It was attended by officials of National Housing Authority (NHA) from Western Visayas; local contractors; Iloilo Representative Raul Tupas; Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores; and Mayors Siegfredo Betita of Carles, Iloilo; Denny Refol Jr. of Altavas, Aklan; Jose Jeffrey Lumogdang of Culasi, Antique; and Katherine Dequiña-Belo of Panit-an, Capiz.
Nograles said he is happy that after several years of waiting, the housing units will now be turned over to municipalities.
"Thank you, mayors, for your patience. I also thank the NHA for their perseverance and their patience," he said.
Nograles, chairman of Task Force Yolanda, said he had a conversation with NHA general manager Marcelino P. Escalada Jr. and they agreed to finish all the Yolanda housing units by 2020.
Escalada, in November 2018, was designated as secretary-general of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council while concurrently serving as NHA general manager.
"Hindo pwede na may magmamana pa nito... So our commitment to President (Rodrigo) Duterte is by the year 2020, all housing projects of Yolanda are completed," said Nograles.
In Panay Island, Nograles said the target is 90,148 housing units.
As of September 30, he said about 60 percent or 56,936 units have already been completed, but overall, the project is already 93.5 percent complete.
"Just to let you know, since we are already 93.5 percent complete and ongoing, we are really on track in completing this by the year 2020," Nograles said.
Of the completed housing units, 30,704 units have already been occupied.
Nograles has asked for the support of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to make the place a livable community.
His vision is to provide to the community electricity, source of water, school building, daycare center, and health units, especially in areas that are "geographically isolated and displaced areas."
He said he tapped the "Last Mile Schools Program" of Education Secretary Leonor Briones to bring the public schools near the Yolanda community and in line with the Philippine Development Plan 2017 to 2022 under the Duterte administration.
Nograles thanked Tupas for the approval of the DepEd 2020 budget that includes the Last Mile Schools Program.
He also said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has agreed to set up a health center where Leonor's Last Mile Schools Program is located.
DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista, for his part, has agreed to set up daycare centers near the school and health center of Yolanda housing community, especially in the geographically isolated and displaced areas, said Nograles.
He also tapped Department of Agriculture Secretary William Dar for the agricultural livelihood of the Yolanda beneficiaries.
"Make the place livable, with water, electricity, school, daycare, health facilities and livelihood, and we cannot do it alone, we need the help of the local government units (LGU) to make those places livable," Nograles said.
He said that by 2020, all Yolanda housing projects are done, stressing he does not want the next administration to inherit the Yolanda housing problem.
"The next administration will just reap the benefits of what we have done and what we have accomplished," Nograles said. "It was challenging when I came on board, but as long as we put our heads together and focus on what needs to be done, pray, we can accomplish anything."
Based on records from Culasi town in Antique, the Esperaza Home Site 1 already has a total of 1,000 completed and occupied units, while Esperaza Home Site 2 has 974 completed and occupied housing units.
In Altavas town in Capiz, 363 of the 393 housing units in Altavas Homes Site 1 and 2 have been occupied.
In Panit-an, Capiz, the Villa Medalla Milagrosa Housing Project already has 572 completed and occupied housing units.
In Carles, Iloilo, Guinticgan Village Phase 1 has 1,000 units, all occupied, while St. Therese Village Housing Project Phase 1 and 2 have a total of 1,500 units.
More housing units in Panay Island will be turned over these coming months, said officials.
Panay Island is composed of four provinces: Aklan, Capiz, Antique and Iloilo. (SunStar Philippines)