An open letter to President Aquino, on a housing project for ‘Yolanda’ survivors


Dear Mr. President,

As you prepare to hand over the presidency to the new dispensation and return to private life, may we request you to, please, for this one last service, help some of the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan, in Jaro, Leyte.

The Citizens’ Disaster Response Center Foundation, Inc. (CDRC), a 32-year old NGO advocating community-based disaster management, has an ongoing project to construct 303 typhoon-resistant houses in Barangays San Roque, Buenavista, and Macanipin through the assistance of Germany’s DiakonieKatastrophenhilfe (DKH). This is already phase 2 of CDRC’s shelter project, where phase 1 involved the construction of 297 houses in six barangays of Jaro. These houses were turned over to the beneficiaries in Nov. 2015.

For phase 1, we requested for an exemption from taxes and duties, under Presidential Memorandum Order (PMO) No. 36,for the shipment of pinewood used to construct the houses in 2014. The exemption was processed through the one-stop shop (OTS) set up by the government for donations for the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan. The processing took only one day. So for phase 2, we also requested for exemption from taxes and duties, just like the one granted in 2014 for the pinewood used in phase 1. There was no more OTS at this time, however, so we had to process the exemption through the different government departments and agencies concerned.

DKH sent three shipments of pinewood to the Port of Cebu en route to Ormoc City, then Jaro, Leyte: the first shipment arrived last Dec. 9, the second on Feb. 3 and, the third, on May 18. We started processing the request for exemption from taxes and duties for the fist shipment through the DSWD last Dec. 14. We updated our request to include exemption for the second and third shipments while waiting for the processing.

From the DSWD, our request was endorsed to the Presidential Management Staff (PMS), which forwarded their recommendation to the Office of the Executive Secretary (OES) on Feb. 12. Our request was given an official barcode: ES 1600229. In April, the OES referred our request/documents to the OCD. So USec. Alexander Pama met with CDRC representatives and concerned officers of DSWD on April 19 to explain that donated materials/equipment for recovery and rehabilitation are not DSWD concerns but OCD’s/NDRRMC’s. Thus the request for exemption under PMO No. 36 has to be endorsed by the OCD/DND/NDRRMC. Still, the project implementation has to be monitored and evaluated, and this will be done by DSWD. Thus the project still needs DSWD endorsement.

Assst. Sec. Vilma Cabrera of DSWD attended the April 19 meeting and assured us of support. The officials of the two departments agreed that official communication between them will be done immediately to expedite the process. Support for waiving storage fees was also mentioned by DSWD representatives since the shipments are all for the shelter project for Typhoon Yolanda survivors and the two shipments are already accumulating storage fees at the Port of Cebu. While waiting for the tax exemption, we have likewise requested for a waiver of storage fees from the Cebu Ports Authority. We requested for the same for our third shipment, which has yet to arrive. They have somehow agreed to this, in principle. We just have to provide the necessary documents (bill of lading, etc.).

As of now, June 6, it is almost six months, Mr. President, since we first requested for tax and duties exemption. Meanwhile, the houses being constructed are awaiting completion. Rainy days have officially started and the survivor-beneficiaries of the project still have no permanent homes to protect them from the elements.

It is our fervent hope and prayer that with your help, our request for exemption from taxes and duties of the shipments of pinewood for the shelter project be granted and the storage fees be waived as well, so that these can be released immediately. We (CDRC), our donors (DKH) and their benefactors, have patiently waited for action on our request even at the expense of our beneficiaries’ welfare. The Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan survivors, who are in dire need of shelter, have waited long enough. Please grant the exemption and help build their houses.

Yours respectfully,
Citizens’ Disaster Response Foundation, Inc.

Christie Suyin Ceres G. Jamoralin, Executive Director
(02) 929-9820 to 22

MalenSerato, Coordinator
Research, Publication and Information Department
0906 586-1984; 0947 277-8774


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1 Comment

  1. That’s Mar Roxas’ job…I don’t know how to break this to you Ms. Jamoralin but well, there was the election expenses – consider Leni’s and Mar’s campaign expenses, all the way down to the barangay level, nationwide yan ha. The LP’s left and right vote-buying, the Smartmatic billeted in a Cubao hotel…you know what I mean. Wait na lang a little longer, and address this same letter to the new president. Duterte will be more sympathetic than the sitting prez.