• ‘Probe Yolanda shelter aid’


    THE Anakpawis party-list on Thursday urged Congress to investigate the slow and allegedly anomalous implementation of the government’s shelter assistance for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda.

    Rep. Fernando Hicap was referring to the Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for victims in Eastern Visayas, Panay, Central Visayas and some parts of Palawan.

    Hicap said that despite the P18-billion supplemental budget on top of the original ESA fund, the DSWD has failed to fully and efficiently provide emergency shelters to the victims of Typhoon Yolanda, which hit the country almost two years ago.

    “The glaring delay and the unreasonably stringent requirements set by the DSWD’s Memo Circular 24 series of 2014 for ESA applicants flagrantly defeat the emergency nature and purpose of the said assistance program,” he added.

    The circular prescribes that those who can avail of the ESA are those with an income of less than P15,000 monthly, residing in a safe area and are not receiving any assistance from relatives working abroad.

    There is no truth to reports that the distribution of shelter assistance is done without delay or irregularities, according to typhoon victims who are members of Sagupa Sinirangan Visayas and People Surge.

    Some reports point to how loan sharks, in cahoots with unscrupulous DSWD officials, are victimizing ESA applicants.

    Under the “kase-kase” modus, loan sharks would lend cash with 16 percent interest, to a potential ESA beneficiary. The DSWD would then release the shelter assistance directly to the loan shark or financier.

    “Congress should investigate such heartless schemes of corruption allegedly perpetrated by local financiers, corrupt local government officials and the DSWD itself on top of the gross display of incompetence and negligence by those who are supposed to look for the welfare of calamity victims,” Hicap said.

    Hicap already filed several resolutions concerning the rehabilitation efforts of the Aquino government in Yolanda-hit areas including a proposal to investigate the alleged over-pricing of substandard bunkhouses constructed in Eastern Visayas. The lawmaker is set to file another resolution particularly regarding the ESA issue.


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