House committee asks NHA to explain ‘Yolanda’ housing anomalies

Published September 5, 2017, 12:06 AM
By Ben Rosario

The chairman of the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development yesterday asked the National Housing Authority (NHA) to explain why it failed to address anomalies in the construction of houses for super -typhoon ‘Yolanda’ victims notwithstanding the agency’s snail-paced delivery of completed housing units.

Citing a Commission on Audit (COA) report, Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez disclosed that the NHA accomplishment record in delivering housing units for ‘Yolanda’ victims and other resettlement program for informal settler families has been dismal.

Benitez noted that out of the 382,082 housing units under the NHA Housing Program only 190,413 units were completed under a three year program that started in 2016.

“What’s even more pathetic is the fact that the occupancy rate was also low at 76,004 or 49.83 percent of the available units,” the senior administration congressman lamented.

He aired the suspicion that many of the beneficiaries have kept away from the available housing units, knowing that they are of inferior quality.

In a congressional hearing on Yolanda housing held in Borongan, Eastern Samar over the weekend, a subcontractor of NHA resettlement project for ‘Yolanda’ victims revealed that the completed housing units were built using substandard construction materials.

The subcontractor, Camilo Salazar, admitted that construction materials used for the Borongan housing units were undersized or of inferior quality because contractors who won the housing contracts scrimped on cost.

“Our people have been victimized twice over.  First, by super typhoon Yolanda and now by crooked contractors and their cohorts,” Benitez deplored.

Government has approved a 112.9 billion budget for several housing programs starting 2012.

Included in the housing program was a P59.77 billion earmarked for the implementation of the Typhoon Yolanda Housing Project for victims rendered homeless  by the devastating 2013 super typhoon.

According to Benitez the NHA was tasked to implement the program by delivering “disaster resilient resettlement houses” for Yolanda victims.

“Based on the COA report and what we have gathered during the Borongan public hearing, the NHA has a lot of explaining to do,” stated Benitez.