Solons grill NHA execs over Yolanda housing issue



Published October 10, 2017 1:21pm
By ERWIN COLCOL, GMA News

Lawmakers on Tuesday grilled officials of the National Housing Authority (NHA) over the supposed delays in the resolution of the alleged substandard construction of housing units for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda.

During a joint House inquiry into the snail-paced implementation of housing relocation and resettlement projects for Typhoon Yolanda victims, Juanito Tayag, owner of contractor J.C. Tayag Builders Inc., reiterated that they did not purchase or use substandard materials for the housing units.

This, even as the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development earlier sent an inspection team to the construction site to check the housing units.

Instead of the standard 10 millimeter steel rods, the team found that J.C. Tayag Builders Inc. used 8 millimeter ones for the construction of the housing units.

"I was speaking because based on our records we did not use 8 millimeter," Tayag stressed during the hearing.

"Sa totoo po, pati kami nagpapaimbestiga dahil 'di namin alam bakit may 8 millimeter... Talagang wala po kaming binili at ginamit na 8 millimeter," he added.

A whistleblower named Camilo Salazar earlier revealed that J.C. Tayag Builders Inc. had used 8 millimeter instead of 10 millimeter steel rods for the project.

Tayag has since denied Salazar's allegations.

House panel chairman Alfredo Benitez then turned the questioning to NHA Region VIII director Engineer Rizaldy Mediavillo to ask how J.C. Tayag Builders Inc. got away with using substandard materials for the housing project.

Mediavillo, however, said they issued a site memo to J.C. Tayag Builders in December 2016 upon learning that the contractor used substandard materials.

The site memo obligates the contractor to rectify the issues the NHA found in the construction of the project.

"Hindi nakalusot dahil binigyan namin siya ng site memo noong ma-inspect," Mediavillo said.

"'Yung mga hindi in compliance with contract, subject to site memo to rectify. Kung 'di ico-comply, hindi mababayaran," he added.

But Abang Lingkod party-list Representative Joseph Stephen Paduano found it alarming that the NHA only informed the House panel of the existence of the site memo when the issue of the substandard materials was already being discussed in the previous hearings.

Benitez asked Mediavillo to provide the committee with a copy of the site memo.

"Can you submit yung site memo? I find it very unusual na bigla na lang nagkakaroon ng site memo na pinadala niyo ng December 2016," he said.

"Napaka-material ng site memo na 'yun. Sa lahat ng construction, walang gumagamit ng 8 millimeter," he added.

Engineer Grace Guevarra, officer-in-charge of the Visayas Management of the National Housing Authority, said they have already issued a notice to terminate the project last August.

NHA Assistant General Manager Froilan Kampitan, meanwhile, assured that the J.C. Tayag Builders Inc. will not be paid for their non-compliance in the contract for the project.

"No payment has been made, no acceptance of the project has been done. As far as the payments, none has been done yet as of the moment and the action of the [NHA] general manager right now is to pursue termination of that project," he said.

Benitez has warned that they may file perjury charges against Tayag for allegedly making false statements in their previous hearings.

This was after he declared under oath that J.C. Tayag Builders Inc. did not use substandard materials for the construction project when the inspection team found otherwise. — RSJ, GMA News