IT’S been almost two years since Super Typhoon Yolanda devastated entire communities in Eastern Visayas but the government has only managed to build 16,000 houses of the targeted 205,128 homes for the typhoon victims, the Senate learned on Monday.
National Housing Authority (NHA) General Manager Sinforoso Pagunsan said not all of the 16,544 houses had been completed.
He made the admission during the resumption of the Senate hearing on housing for victims of Yolanda held by the committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement found out Monday.
The government plans to build 205,128 houses by July 2016 in the provinces hit by “Yolanda.”
Pagunsan said 73,000 housing units are being constructed. Of this number, 45,000 units are expected to be completed in December this year while the remaining units will be constructed by July 2016.
The NHA official said the Department of Budget and Management has released P26.996 billion for the shelter program.
Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council Chairman Chito Cruz said the construction of the housing units is taking too long because of the various requirements needed before a project can start. He explained that they need to comply with the rules of the Commission on Audit (COA) on land titling because they cannot just build houses without first securing a land title. They also need to make sure that the chosen land for the housing project is safe, which means that clearance from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) should be secured.
Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, who called for the hearing, recognized the difficulties the NHA and HUDCC are facing but he maintained that the two agencies should have found a way to speed up the building process.
“We can see that the rehabilitation is moving, but also need to explain to the people why the construction is experiencing delays, but there is a need to closely monitor the situation to make sure that all concerned agencies are working,” the senator said.
Ejercito lamented that the political squabble between the local government of Tacloban City and the national government also contributed to the delays in the rehabilitation efforts.
The United Nations (UN) special rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons recently said the Philippines has not done enough to rebuild after the Super Typhoon Yolanda, noting that thousands of survivors remain in shanties without power and water.
Ejercito said local and national agency officials should set aside their differences and work together for the sake of the people who have been suffering for almost two years.