While the bunkhouses in Tacloban might have been built with substandard materials they were not overpriced, according to the secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson said on Monday that teams they deployed in Tacloban, which was severely ravaged by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), found that materials used in constructing bunk–house roofs, walls and floors were not prescribed by the department.
At a gathering in Pasay City, Singson said the metal roofs could be easily bent, and only regular plywood that is prone to damage once it gets wet was used for the walls and floors of the said bunkhouses.
The agency prescribed that only 0.40-millimetre thick metal roofs and marine plywood, which is + the thickness of regular plywood, must be used for the construction of these houses.
“[Materials that meet] the standards we set for the bunkhouses are not available in Yolanda-hit areas,” he added.
Singson also said the DPWH has not paid the contractors of the bunkhouses.
The DPWH chief was reported to have denied that some contractors colluded with some local politicians in Yolanda-hit areas in exchange for commissions as high as 35 percent of the project cost.
He felt that politics might be involved in the said rumors, citing a possible scuffle between the mayor of Guiuan, Eastern Samar and a member of the House of Representatives from the said province.
The government built the bunkhouses to serve as temporary shelter for survivors of the super typhoon that ravaged most parts of Visayas and killed over 6,000 people on November 8 last year.
Singson noted that DPWH aims to complete 222 units of bunkhouses, with each unit costing about P86,000.
Representatives from the United Nations are also present to check on the construction of the bunkhouses, he added. But he said that they came in only when the construction started.
The secretary also stressed that considerations of family size and gender issues, as suggested by certain groups, were not an issue in the agency. “These are issues that went out of proportion,” he added.
Meanwhile, in the same gathering, Singson also stressed that the agency’s presence will soon be felt in Mindanao.
Of the P151.17-billion budget approved by the President for this year, P37.58 billion or 24.9 percent was allocated to Mindanao-based regions, with majority of which given to Region 10 or Northern Mindanao.
The National Capital Region got the smallest share, with P23.78-billion or only 15.7 percent.
He explained that DPWH projects were now all in line-item form since the Supreme Court declared the Priority Development Assistance Fund unconstitutional last year.
Singson also said that more infrastructure projects that are related to local tourism should be expected this year.