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Sunday, August 01, 2021

Many Yolanda survivors ‘not qualified’ to receive shelter assistance

MORE than half of super typhoon Yolanda survivors in Bantayan will not get the emergency shelter assistance (ESA) from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Those living inside the 40-meter danger zone and households whose combined or individual monthly income is above P15,000 are not qualified to receive the aid, based on the DSWD’s new guidelines, said Bantayan Mayor Ian Christopher Escario.

Escario and other mayors will submit a manifesto against these limitations and will just let the DSWD distribute the assistance and explain the matter to the survivors.

During the 888 Forum last Feb. 3, Bogo City Mayor Celestino Martinez Jr., Sta. Fe Mayor Jose Esgana and Daanbantayan Mayor Augusto Corro shared Escario observation that if they stick to their list of beneficiaries in distributing the ESA, they would go to jail.

Based on the new guidelines, 60 percent of the 17,650 household beneficiaries in Escario’s list that was submitted to the DSWD main office in Manila are no longer qualified to get shelter assistance.

In yesterday’s press conference, Escario said he received a text message from DSWD, stating that their P375-million ESA check is in the regional office in Cebu City.

“Pero less na ana ang magamit kay (Not the whole amount will be used since) around 7,060 households na lang ang (are) qualified beneficiaries,” he said.

Some 10,590 families in Bantayan whose houses were either destroyed or damaged by Yolanda will not get anything from DSWD.

“More than half of Bantayan’s population live in the danger zone since they live in an island and their main source of livelihood is fishing. They don’t live on the plains,” Escario said.

Escario said 87,000 people live in the town’s 25 barangays, where 22 are coastal or island barangays and only three are in the interior.

He said those who live in the danger zone can’t all transfer to the safe zone.

If he insists on giving the total amount to all the beneficiaries, the Commission on Audit might disallow it and he will be liable for plunder.

Aside from danger zone dwellers, policemen, teachers and overseas Filipino workers will also not qualify for the ESA, Escario said.

According to the guidelines, only those whose term of employment is not permanent or regular and who do not have access to housing loans are eligible for the assistance.

“Kami mo-execute sa plano nga palpak na daan (We will be implementing a defective policy),” Escario said.

Jenifer Abastillas, social welfare officer in charge of disaster risk reduction management, reportedly said last Feb. 3 that government workers will not be the priority of the program but they will soon receive assistance.

Escario, though, said he has yet to hear this announcement.

The mayor also said he will move for the DSWD to take charge of the distribution of the ESA.

Last December, DSWD Director Merceditas Jaba-gat informed Escario, through a letter, that P143.93 million was available for distribution.

But since the full amount Bantayan needs is P375.88 million, releasing the P143.93 million will only cause social chaos and will be perceived as being partial and having political color, Escario said.

“This will put Bantayan, DSWD and the National Government in a very bad light,” he told Jabagat in his letter.

Escario said he wrote DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman about the new guidelines, but he has yet to receive a reply.
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