• Rep. Ridon: Probe ‘flimsy’ bunkhouses

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    Kabataan party-list Representative Terry Ridon called on the House Committee on Social Services on Monday to conduct an onsite investigation on the ‘Yolanda’ bunkhouses that were easily destroyed by typhoon Ruby (Hagupit).

    The bunkhouses were built for the victims of typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), which claimed the lives of more than 6,000 people last year.

    Ridon wants the Committee to determine if these were built in substandard manner, thus compromising the safety and welfare of the survivors, and to find if anyone could be held liable. He also wanted to probe the “slow-paced” construction of permanent housing in the Yolanda-affected areas.

    Typhoon Ruby, with maximum winds of up to 195 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness of 220 kph, was the strongest typhoon to hit the country this year. It made several landfalls, including the areas hit by Yolanda in Eastern Visayas.

    Hundreds of ‘Yolanda’ bunkhouses were left roofless, compelling residents to use recycled tarpaulins as makeshift roofing. Some units were even totally destroyed, making them unfit for residence.

    Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte earlier explained that the bunkhouses were built only for temporary use or until the permanent housing units are built. She added that these temporary units can only withstand winds of up to 150 kph.

    “The flimsiness of the bunkhouses can be proof that there is truth to the issue of corruption and substandard construction that were once raised at the onset of reconstruction efforts,” Ridon said.

    Yolanda-rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson criticized the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) last year for the “substandard” bunkhouses in Tacloban City and in some areas in Samar province.

    In asking for a probe, Ridon noted that the Government has allocated a total of P13.5 billion for the construction of 46,129 permanent housing units for Yolanda-devastated areas. As of December 2014, however, only 1,595 permanent housing units were constructed.

    “The slow-paced construction is clearly not commensurate with the massive amount of funds being poured to provide permanent housing to the victims of typhoon Yolanda. An onsite investigation should clearly be done, for us to assess what’s really happening on the ground. Congress just cannot simply appropriate more and more funds even if pertinent issues such as overpricing and substandard build quality remain unresolved,” Ridon said.

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