Access to water, electricity delayed housing for victims of ‘Yolanda’ – Benitez

Published September 20, 2017, 10:01 PM
By Ben R. Rosario

Access to water and electrical services has been pinpointed as among the factors that caused the delay in the implementation of housing relocation and resettlement projects for victims of typhoon Yolanda four years ago in Leyte and Samar.

Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez, chairman of the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development, said the irregularities in the construction of housing units have been aggravated by lack of access to water and electrical facilities for the thousands of typhoon victims in Eastern Samar and Leyte.

Benitez said this was the initial findings of the committee during the resumption of public hearing on House Resolution NO. 599 calling for an investigation on the snail-paced implementation of the housing projects financed by the government through the National Housing Authority.

“We’re out to find the appropriate intervention to fast-track housing production and at the same time hold accountable those who have been remiss in their duties in these housing projects,” said Benitez.

Whistleblower Camilo Salazar has claimed that they have constructed housing units with substandard construction materials as ordered by the contractor of the project.

Witnesses summoned to the hearing, including officials of the NHA and its principal contractor JC Tayag, pointed to the lack of available access to potable water and electricity as among the factors that have delayed the completion of the resettlement projects.

Benitez said relocating homeless Yolanda victims to communities that would make their lives more miserable is as bad as the commission of anomalies in the handling of the construction projects.

Benitez said the housing and urban development committee will get into the bottom of the irregularities committed in the construction of resettlement sites, saying that it might recommend the filing of criminal and administrative charges if necessary.

The senior administration lawmaker noted that during the hearing a sub-contractor pointed to the contractor.

Rep. Ben Evardone (Lone District, Eastern Samar), author of HR 599, asked National Housing Administration (NHA) General Manager Marcelino Escalada and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Assistant Secretary Merceditas Sombilla to consider the suggestion that Yolanda relocation project funds be downloaded to local government units.