NHA scolded for being too lax on Yolanda housing works

Published September 18, 2017, 6:38 PM
By Ellson Quismorio

House of Representatives members on Monday scolded the National Housing Authority (NHA) for being too nonchalant in its supervision of the construction of resettlement sites for super typhoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) victims.

Negros Occidental third district Rep. Alfredo Benitez, Caloocan City second district Rep. Edgar Erice and Eastern Samar lone district Rep. Ben Evardone all agreed during a House inquiry that it’s the NHA’s fault why the construction of homes for the victims remain “snail-placed” nearly four years after the storm.

I think there should be more effort coming from NHA in monitoring and instilling some sort of discipline among the contractors to finish it on time and make sure that there is no slippage,” Benitez told the agency’s general manager, Marcelino Escalada Jr.

Escalada was among the resource persons invited to the probe held by the Benitez-chaired committee on housing and urban development regarding the housing backlog. It was a follow-up on the committee hearing held by congressmen in Tacloban, Leyte on September 1.

Packing winds of 315 kilometers per hour (kph), Yolanda brought the country’s central islands to its knees in November 2013, killing and displacing thousands. At that time, it was the strongest typhoon ever observed.

In his presentation to the housing panel, Escalada said the NHA’s target is to build 205,000 housing units along the Yolanda corridor or the typhoon’s path of destruction from Eastern Samar to Palawan. Of this figure, less than 72,000 have been completed.

Even less, some 24,000, are the units that are actually occupied by the beneficiaries.

Evardone, who filed House Resolution 599 which led to particular inquiry, couldn’t put a finger as to what was delaying the construction of the homes.

One unfinished relocation site that the Visayas solon highlighted was the Hernani Townsville 1 relocation site, located in his district. The NHA official said the contract for the site was awarded on January 7, 2016, while the contractor was given the notice to proceed the following month.

“The point is, (the contracts) have been bid out. Therefore, that means the land conversion and land title have been OK’d. Why has it taken more than a year?” asked Evardone, chairman of the banks and financial intermediaries committee.