PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has expressed disappointment over the slow pace of government rehabilitation efforts for the survivors of super typhoon “Yolanda” three years since the devastation that killed more than 6,300 people.
Speaking during a memorial service for typhoon fatalities in Tacloban City, Leyte on Tuesday, Duterte said rehabilitation programs should have been completed one year after the onslaught.
“I came three years ago when this incident happened and I was sad. I told them, I’m not mad. Do not be offended but three years after, there are only a few who live in bunkhouses or the relief houses that are provided by government,” Duterte said.
“I am not satisfied. As a matter of fact, it’s BS to me,” he added.
Duterte apologized to Yolanda survivors for the delay and warned he would fire any government employee found to have delayed rehabilitation projects, citing in particular the Local Water Utilities Administration, National Housing Authority and the Department of Public Works and Highways, all involved in reconstruction work.
“Indolence is part of corruption. When you are paid for eight hours to do your work, work for eight hours, do not shortchange the public,” the President said.
Duterte promised Yolanda survivors he would come back in December to check on the progress of rehabilitation projects.
He ordered Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Diño and Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo to fast-track housing projects for typhoon victims.
Robredo, who heads the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, had said that bureaucratic red tape was slowing down the completion of more than 200,000 houses.
As of September 30, Robredo said 29,661 houses were finished, 20,287 were partially completed and only 4,278 were occupied.
Robredo wants to finish construction of 205,126 permanent housing units for Yolanda victims by 2018.
Also on Tuesday, the Citizens’ Disaster Response Center Foundation said it was unable to complete its shelter program for 1,500 individuals in Leyte due to government bureaucracy.
The construction of 300 houses has been suspended since July, as the group could not get the wood released from the Port of Cebu due to the non-issuance of tax and duty exemptions as well as fee waivers.
The Office of the President, through Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, issued a memorandum addressed to Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon on October 17, issuing a clearance for only one of the foundation’s three pinewood shipments.
“While we welcome the President’s action on our plea, we ask him to give clearance to all the wood shipments so that our beneficiaries could finally have roof above their heads. It’s been three years and they remain homeless,” said Suyin Jamoralin, executive director of the foundation.
Unlike the substandard houses built by government for Yolanda survivors, the group and its partner DiakonieKatastrophenhilfe are building typhoon- and earthquake-resistant houses.