Solon vows punishment for officials, contractors behind Yolanda housing mess

Published November 7, 2017 7:34pm

Negros Occidental Representative Alfredo Benitez on Tuesday vowed punishment for those responsible for the construction delay and substandard quality of the housing units for victims of Typhoon Yolanda.

Benitez, who chairs the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development, made the pronouncement on the eve of the fourth-year anniversary of the deadly super typhoon.

In a statement, Benitez lamented the lack of concrete progress in the construction of houses for typhoon victims, who still live in temporary housing or in danger zones.

“It appears that, for many families, the tragedy continues,” he said.

The House panel has held several hearings investigating the snail-paced implementation of Yolanda housing projects.

During the investigation, the panel found out that substandard materials were used in the construction of houses for Typhoon Yolanda victims in Balangiga, Eastern Samar.

Instead of 10 millimeter re-bars, the committee, through its inspection team, discovered that JC Tayag Builders, the contractor for the project, used substandard 8 millimeter re-bars for the construction of the housing units.

The House panel, in a joint meeting with the Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, also grilled the National Housing Authority over the allegedly irregular bidding process where JC Tayag Builders cornered the P800-million housing project in Eastern Samar.

It was also found during the same hearing that NHA regional officials still recommended the extension of the contract of the JC Tayag Builders even if they already knew that the contractor used substandard materials.

“This is utterly unacceptable. Our kababayans in the Yolanda corridor have suffered enough yet some people have the gall to profit from their misfortune,” Benitez said.

The NHA, however, denied on Tuesday that the housing units being put up for Typhoon Yolanda victims were substandard, yet admitting to have structural defects.

Juanito Tayag, owner of JC Tayag Builders Inc., had belied during the House investigation the claim thaat the materials for the housing project were substandard.

In his testimony, Tayag said they did not use 8- millimeter steel rods for the construction of the houses instead of 10 millimeters.

Benitez said he will guarantee that officials and contractors who may have profited from the Yolanda housing projects will be held accountable.

“Four years but we see little progress. I am hoping that it would not take yet another four years to fulfill the promise of adequate housing for Yolanda survivors," he said.

"We will not let rest until Yolanda-affected families will finally have a safe and decent house to live in,” Benitez added. —Erwin Colcol/KBK, GMA News